Melody Top Music Theater: In gentler times, Hillside Strangler ...

Vikki Ortiz What ever happened to... June 5, 2009 Each day, thousands of cars squeeze through the area known as the Hillside Strangler, where the Tri-State Tollway , Reagan Tollway , and Eisenhower Expressway intersect in Hillside. Full Story
Lies

Champaign, IL

#1 Jun 5, 2009
whatever happened to a solvent Tribune Co.?

Oh yeah, they lied down with Blago, tried to turn a quick buck on selling Wrigley Field, and gave away their product on the Internet.

Dumb-dumbs.
Joe Colosimo

Cicero, IL

#2 Jun 5, 2009
One problem with this story is that Curly Howard died in 1952. It was probably Curly Joe that toured with the Stooges in the 1960's.
Joe A - Lakeview

Chicago, IL

#3 Jun 5, 2009
Obviously theater makes one think of crooked governors. What? You forgot to bring up Daley, Stroger and Obama. Get a grip! GEEZ!
pammyfaye

Downers Grove, IL

#4 Jun 5, 2009
This is so cool! When I saw something about the Melody Top in the Trib today, I thought "Hey, that name rings a bell! Didn't I see the Stooges there?" I'm a year older than Jeff Schwartz who saw them there so I bet we were at the same show! I remember they walked through the audience and I was so disappointed that none of them came close enough to shake hands with me.
RegularGuy

Schaumburg, IL

#5 Jun 5, 2009
Not far from there was home to another company that was a brief icon in Americana - the Sperry & Hutchinson company. They were the people who created a national craze with 'S&H Green Stamps", those little stamps you got for shopping at retailers. You'd paste them into your books, then bring the books to redeem for all manner of household items.

I only saw one show under the Melody Top, and I think I got bored and fell asleep. But I remember almost every kitchen appliance we had coming from S&H Green Stamps.
Kevin

Bloomingdale, IL

#6 Jun 6, 2009
My mother handed me this article because she had taken me to see the stooges at Melody Top and I also grew up in Broadview. She asked if I Knew who Jeff was. She was surprised when I told her we were blood brothers.

BTW, the poster was correct that it was Curly Joe who was with Moe and Larry at that time.
Jeff Schwartz

Glendale Heights, IL

#7 Jan 24, 2010
Kevin did you go to Lindop?
Kevin

Bloomingdale, IL

#8 Jan 24, 2010
Jeff Schwartz wrote:
Kevin did you go to Lindop?
yes, it's me.
weaselriot

Chicago, IL

#9 Apr 23, 2010
I saw the Three Stooges at the Melody Top also. My Mom took me (and she absolutely HATED the Three Stooges). A couple of my friends went too, one was Mike Sturgis and I think Ted Connelly was there too. Some notes to compare:

1. It was Curly Jo, actually, Joe De Rita. Another replacement Curly was Joe Besser who was on the Joey Bishop Show (he was the maintenance guy at Joey Bishop's apartment building in the show). But I am sure it was Joe De Rita at the Melody Top, because of his voice. Joe Besser's voice was high and squeaky and it definitely was not him.

2. Does anybody remember the Three Stooges OUTSIDE the tent AFTER their show, singing autographs up against the side of the tent? My Mom sent me over with a pencil and they signed my empty popcorn box, which I folded flat. I lost that (along with all my baseball scorecards with ballplayer autographs) when we moved in 1970. They weren't thrown out, just nobody knows where they went. Even today, somewhere, there is a box with old clothes or something, and those auographs are at the bottom.

3. Does anybody remember Curly Joe De Rita outside (during the autographs) smoking this really huge cigar about the size of a railroad tie? OK I'm exaggerating about railroad tie, but it was the biggest cigar I ever saw. I was only 7 yrs old but I knew he wasn't the real Curly from TV.

4. Does anybody remember what a beastly hot day that was (at least on the day I went). It wasn't so bad outside after the show because it was very late afternoon by then, but in the car on the way there was the hottest I can remember up to that time.

5. When we were getting autographs I (stupidly) asked Moe how somebody could go about joining the Three Stooges. He very crossly shouted at me "FORGET it, KID!!!" Larry just stood there grinning. So I not only met Moe Howard but also got yelled at by him too, in character!

6. Does anybody remember that INSIDE the Melody Top for the show, the stage they used was a boxing ring, with the ropes around it and the whole nine yards? I guess that means they must have had boxing matches there also.

7. The only thing I can specifically remember about the show itself was Moe's disclaimer in the beginning, to the effect that they were not REALLY poking each other in the eye and not to try that at home. Imagine my disappointment about hearing THAT!!!

Since then, when I was a cab driver during college at UW Madison in the 70s, I have met Wille Nelson (we sang the Randy Newman song "Short People" in the cab while tooling down the beltline) the Four Seasons (cooler guys than I expected) Frank Zappa (I couldn't drag 2 words out of him) Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (ditto), Sha Na Na (bo-ring) and B. J. Thomas ("Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"...the jerk stiffed me on the tip even tho I didn't run the meter while waiting a half hour for him to come out, but I couldn't stand him anyway). But to this day, Moe and Larry, at least, are the only ones who are known no matter where you go in the world, even to the most remote jungle in Borneo, and getting yelled at by Moe Howard tops everything.

Rich
David A Glenview IL

Glenview, IL

#10 May 13, 2012
I was searching for the Melody Top Theater on the internet and found this. I was at the 3 Stooges show and was looking for any details about the date since I don't remember what year it was. I was sitting on an aisle seat and the Stooges at one point in the show went into the aisles and shook hands. I remember shaking Larry Fine's hand and treasure the memory to this day.
weaselriot

Antioch, IL

#11 May 13, 2012
David A Glenview IL wrote:
I was searching for the Melody Top Theater on the internet and found this. I was at the 3 Stooges show and was looking for any details about the date since I don't remember what year it was. I was sitting on an aisle seat and the Stooges at one point in the show went into the aisles and shook hands. I remember shaking Larry Fine's hand and treasure the memory to this day.
See my previous note above. I know that I was either 6 years old when I went to the show (that would be 1959) or, at most,7 (which would be 1960). But the subject newspaper article says the Melody Top opened in June, 1960. So it would have to be 1960 then. The article also qoutes a guy named Jeff Schwartz who went to the show (and remembers the hand shaking part) saying that he still has his ticket stub. Maybe it has the date. I don't remember the hand shaking part, just getting the autographs outside afterwards. How old were you in 1960, and do you remember it being a really hot sunny summer day when you went? Also, when you went, do you recall the Stooges using a boxing ring for the stage,with seating all around?
Pat McCarthy

Yucca Valley, CA

#12 Jun 19, 2012
weaselriot wrote:
<quoted text>
See my previous note above. I know that I was either 6 years old when I went to the show (that would be 1959) or, at most,7 (which would be 1960). But the subject newspaper article says the Melody Top opened in June, 1960. So it would have to be 1960 then. The article also qoutes a guy named Jeff Schwartz who went to the show (and remembers the hand shaking part) saying that he still has his ticket stub. Maybe it has the date. I don't remember the hand shaking part, just getting the autographs outside afterwards. How old were you in 1960, and do you remember it being a really hot sunny summer day when you went? Also, when you went, do you recall the Stooges using a boxing ring for the stage,with seating all around?
I worked in the cast at the Melody Top in the summer of 1961 which I believe was the first year.
The following year, 1962, the Three Stooges appeared.
weaselriot

Chicago, IL

#13 Jun 20, 2012
Well, the newspaper article does say that the Melody Top opened in 1960, and by 1962 I would have been nine years old, so maybe 1961 was just your first year, not the theater's. No way I was nine years old when I saw the Stooges there.

I have also found a copy of a "Playbill" program on the internet, which says of its founder, Bill Rach, "In late 1959 he selected the Hillside site for Melody Top, raised all the capital, selected all the shows and talent, and in 1960 opened what was to become the most successful first year in summer musical tent history". This particular edition of "Playbill", freaturing a Jerome Kern musical called "Roberta", has a copyright of 1964, so I take it as authoritative since it is more contemporaneous than any of our fading memories today.

This "Playbill" has a nice photograph of the Melody Top, as well as some additional information about the venue, including its seating, lights and sound equipment.

If you are female and if you were using the last name "Cope" or "Fraser" at that time, you are listed in the "Playbill" as a singer (if Fraser)or a dancer (if Cope). The link to see this is http://www.memoriesofmelodytop.com/images/Rob... .
Pat McCarthy wrote:
<quoted text>
I worked in the cast at the Melody Top in the summer of 1961 which I believe was the first year.
The following year, 1962, the Three Stooges appeared.
weaselriot

Chicago, IL

#14 Jun 20, 2012
Well, here's a link to a site with an actual poster of the three stooges show:

http://massrppc.angelfire.com/

Unfortunately it just says "July 14-23" and doesn't say the year.
Stewart

Northbrook, IL

#15 Sep 8, 2012
I was at the show in 1962 in Hillside Illinois. I was 7 years old at the time. I just found 2 black and white pictures my father took there.
1. A picture showing the 3 stooges on stage with a microphone. The stage is white and you can see the audience. I can't tell if the floor is round or square but it looks like it is a few feet deep.
2. I remember this picture of Moe leaning over a gate with an old man with a long white beard sitting a few feet behind him in a rocking chair, he was talking to me.
WOW!!
I say The Stooges

Schaumburg, IL

#16 Dec 1, 2012
were in 1960. I shook hands with Moe and Larry.
I say The Stooges

Schaumburg, IL

#17 Dec 1, 2012
I mean 1961. From the Brookfield Citizen, June 29, 1961,

Stooges Invite You SOth On June 4 the members of Boy Scout Post Brookfield were guests of the Great Lakes Naval training Donald John John Goodbye and Hello Dorothy nnd Pat Happy Camping Tht Stooges arc shown in which means nothing but laughs three get there is no keeping them out of hilarious be on hand July 14 at to welcome the lucky young guests who will write the most ing letters why they want to the Three Stooges in ac In Twenty ILIM ir less why the IN the Till I want to see the Three Sinners on because on to dav see at 14th at My Name In Address Paste this official entry blank on s Mail to Three Stooges Editor The 111 West Only Official Entries Conn Contest not rp Final of this HKY KIDS Would you In soe the Three on day at the Melody Top Theatre Hillside The editor of Citizen has made arrangements with Messers Chuck Comiskey and Jos eph Vaughn of Melody Top Theatre for 5 of his lucky read ers to be there Opening July 14th at WHAT TO DO Clip the of contest entry blank print ed write in 20 words or less I Want to See the Three Stooges in person on July 11 at Because then write your Paste this official entry form on a Postcard and mail it to the Three do not send in a fancy or send your entry in an out the official entry The 5 hist entries will receive by mail 2 fne passes rach to sec the Three Stooges in heir show The Three Stooges In Orbit opening As an added attraction the fam ous balloon man of TV Hob will also he and music the famous Melo dy Top Hun dip he official entry iiil it in The close July How many rut nes jan
Rich M

Wheaton, IL

#18 Nov 2, 2013
I was the House Manager at Melody Top in Hillside during the 1961 season when the Stooges appeared. Moe was a grumpy old man, Larry was gentleman, and Joe was pretty cool.
StarMountainKId

Dyersburg, TN

#19 Aug 27, 2014
I and my family went to Melody Top and saw the musical Oklahoma. I don't remember who the star was, but he was in movies but mostly a Broadway musical star. As I remember, it was pretty well known to be a Mob operation. Take the money and run business, because as I remember it didn't last too long. It was great while it lasted.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Chicago Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
Dear Abby 11/24/14 1 min RACE 9
Barack Obama, our next President (Nov '08) 9 min woodtick57 1,142,553
BARACK OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE: Suit contesting... (Jan '09) 11 min Atticus Tiberius ... 180,725
Last word + 2 (Mar '12) 25 min Hatti_Hollerand 700
{keep A word drop A word} (Oct '11) 55 min Hatti_Hollerand 4,863
Once slow-moving threat, global warming speeds ... (Dec '08) 1 hr Earthling-1 48,466
Messianic Jews say they are persecuted in Israel (Jun '08) 1 hr J RULES 70,589
Chicago Dating
Find my Match

Chicago People Search

Addresses and phone numbers for FREE

Chicago News, Events & Info

Click for news, events and info in Chicago

Personal Finance

Mortgages [ See current mortgage rates ]

NFL Latest News

Updated 4:52 pm PST

Bleacher Report 4:52PM
Takeaways from Bears' Win vs. Bucs
NBC Sports12:53 AM
Colts seeking improvement after beating Jags 23-3 - NBC Sports
Bleacher Report 1:28 AM
Hilton's Big Day Highlights Colts' Transition at WR
NBC Sports 3:20 AM
Between the touchdown and the new daughter, T.Y. Hilton had quite a Sunday
NFL 6:34 AM
Matt Forte: Coaches told us we played 'worst half'