v26-2 Edgewater Teaser #28

Vol. XXVI No. 2 - SUMMER 2015

In our last issue, we advised that the noted sketch comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May performed in Edgewater for a period of time and asked: When and where did they perform?

Answer: Mike Nichols and Elaine May were members of the Compass Players that started out in Hyde Park. In the spring of 1956, the company moved to the Argo Off-Beat Room at 6344 N. Broadway. It was a short run. The company folded in January 1957, and both Mike and Elaine relocated to New York City where they became almost overnight hits. After four successful years, they ended their performances together. Each went on to do other things: Elaine became a screenwriter and playwright, and Mike became a film director. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge are three of his most remembered films.

The building at 6344 Broadway no longer stands, having been replaced by a Popeye drive-through eatery; however, before it housed the Off-Beat Room, it housed a series of restaurants. The building dates back to 1898. (The American Contractor of April 30, 1898, shows that it was designed by architect C.W. Melin for Adolph W. Waldmann.) The 1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance map (available on our website) shows it as a saloon, restaurant and hall.

Incredibly, just a year earlier, there was another place also called the Off Beat Room that was less than three blocks away! It was located at 1037 W. Granville and was the creation of Ken Nordine, the originator of Word Jazz, who still lives in Edgewater. Ken Nordine, in a December 2014 conversation with Tribune critic Chris Jones, said that the Compass Players never performed at his place.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, American Contractor, David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre, by Ira Nadel, interview of Ken Nordine by Chris Jones.

Teaser #29

Roger McCabe, in the Spring/Summer 1992 issue of the Edgewater Scrapbook, related a story his father told him about Gloria Swanson. His father claimed that she was born on Ashland Avenue between Foster and Balmoral Avenues and that as a young girl she often visited the first fire station at Balmoral and Ashland to pet the horses. How accurate is this story?