The Chez Paree opened in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago at 610 N Fairbanks Ct in 1932 to great fanfare and excitement. Irv Kupcinet called it the most glamorous night club in history. “Under the operation of Mike Fritzel and Joey Jacobsen, during it’s early and middle years it was a night club that literally had everything—superb food, thrilling atmosphere, and consistently fine entertainment.”
The food was renowned, something that was very unusual for a night club, but really it was the entertainment that brought in the crowds. Regulars at the Chez Paree included names like Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Carol Channing, Joey Bishop, Buddy Hackett, Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, Martin & Lewis, and Joe E. Lewis.
It was the place to be and be seen. Faces in the crowd included many of the most recognizable Chicago Outfit members (everyone from Sam Giancana to Tony Accardo), the movers and shakers of Chicago politics, the upper crust of Chicago society, and anyone else who wanted to see the biggest entertainers in the country.
The crowd also included members of the Chicago Cubs. In the early days of Chez Paree (the 1930s), several of the Cubs were spotted there on multiple occasions. Among those who made the gossip pages for their Chez Paree visits; Lon Warneke, Charlie Grimm, Frank Demaree, Riggs Stephenson, Charlie Root (photo) and Gabby Hartnett. One night nearly all of them arrived with a special visitor: Babe Ruth.
In the spring of 1960, the Chez Paree announced it was closing it's doors for the summer and that it would reopen in the fall with a new headliner: Red Skelton. Unfortunately, negotiations fell apart during the summer, and Red backed out. The Chez Paree never opened it's doors again, and the hottest night spot in Chicago merely faded into oblivion after 28 years.
Charlie Grimm, who managed the Cubs when the Chez Paree opened in 1932, was also the Cubs manager when the Chez Paree closed for good in 1960. He might have seen that as a sign to get out too--because that's exactly what he did.
The club closed for three main reasons; fewer people enjoyed coming to this type of club, television was becoming more popular, and Las Vegas was skewing the pay-scale, making it cost prohibitive to bring in the big name entertainment that used to appear there regularly. (The building still stands, by the way. It now houses the Pritzker Military Library.)
Charlie Grimm closed the door to managing the Cubs again because he just couldn't take the losing anymore. In one of the most unusual trades in history, he switched places with the broadcaster of the Cubs--Lou Boudreau. Lou came into the dugout, and Charlie went into the broadcast booth.
Unfortunately for Jolly Cholly, his favorite night club was no longer an option after a grueling day behind the microphone.