After the repeal of Prohibition, a nightclub opened in Chicago under the name Chez Paree and became one of the most popular live entertainment venues in the country. For nearly 30 years, the Chez Paree played host to lavish productions and to the greatest legends of stage, screen, and radio—Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, Pearl Bailey, and the list goes on and on. During the radio years, these shows were often broadcast around the nation.
A classic supper club, the Chez Paree could accommodate 650 patrons who would enjoy steakhouse fare and a couple rounds of drinks before the brightly-costumed “Adorables” warmed up the crowd with a dance routine as the house band performed. The vaudeville stars, singers, pianists and showmen often played three shows a night and, between shows, they were expected to mingle with patrons who paid an additional fee in a private bar known as the Key Club.
Sophie Tucker, a big, baudy, blonde and bold vaudeville star who billed herself as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” opened the first show at the Chez Paree with the phrase “Revelry is in order.” Other regulars included comedian Joey Bishop, who earned the nickname “the Frown Prince of Comedy” for his glum demeanor. Joe E. Lewis made the crowds laugh with his “drunk’s view of the world.” Nat King Cole broke attendance records at the Chez, and Sammy Davis Jr., a consummate song-and-dance man, was a friend of the nightclub through the 1950s.
The Chez Paree closed in 1960 after a final performance by Steve and Eydie Gorme.