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Monday, October 3, 2022

Park Forest Historical Society Program on History of the Holiday Theater

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The History of the Holiday Theater will be the program at the Park Forest Historical Society annual meeting on Sunday September 26, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in Park Forest Village Hall Board Meeting Room, 350 Victory Drive.

Jack and Becky Mallers Black will lead a panel discussion on the history of the Holiday Theater. Mrs. Black’s father, Bill Mallers, owned the theater from 1953 to 1978-9. Mr.  and Mrs. Black also worked at the theater. Also participating in the program will be Ann, Phillip and Chuck Mallers, Jim Kaufman–a former projectionist, and Jeff Lindstrom, who was an usher. Other former employees of any period of the theater are encouraged to attend.

The Holiday Theater opened in the Park Forest Shopping Center on October 28, 1950. It was one of the first movie theaters in the country to be in a shopping center. It was possibly the largest theater built in the Chicago metro area since the Depression, having over 1,000 seats and a soundproof “cry room” for parents with children.

 Memories of the theater, which was a social hub in the early days of the village, are vivid for the early residents. The auditorium was used by several churches for Sunday morning services, while churches waited to build sanctuaries. The Holiday also had a conversation room where artists displayed and where refreshments were served.

The Holiday was originally operated by the Harry and Elmer Balaban corporation which also owned the Surf and Esquire theaters in Chicago.   In early 1952, the building, by architects, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, won the “Oscar” of theater design, awarded by Exhibitor and Theatre Catalog Magazines. A bronze plaque cited the Holiday for “international recognition as one of the most modern and well appointed of all current theaters.” The merit award was considered the highest honor offered for theater design by the motion picture industry.

The Facebook group, “Grew up in Park Forest,” has a discussion topic, “Holiday Theater–Did you work there?”

The theater is documented on the website, Cinema Treasures, at http://cinematreasures.org. One of the creators of the site, Ross Melnick, says it is featured in the companion book, Cinema Treasures: A New Look at Classic Movie Theaters. A model of the Holiday Theater is on display at the Theater Historical Society of America in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Information is with Jerry Shnay at 708-747-3571, or with Jane Nicoll at [email protected] yahoo.com.

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