Fox Theatre Celebrates 90th Anniversary on Friday, September 21
The Fox Theatre opened its doors on Sept. 21, 1928 with screening of the film “Street Angel”. The venue was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1989 following a $12 million restoration project by the Ilitch organization. To celebrate milestone, 313 Presents offering guests a special 4-pack offer for $90 on select tickets and performances of 2018-19 Fox Theatre Series.
DETROIT – This Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, the Fox Theatre turns 90 years old. Owned by the Ilitch organization and operated by Olympia Entertainment, the Fox Theatre opened its doors on Sept. 21, 1928, and continues to be one of the most iconic theaters and music venues in the world.
To celebrate the milestone, 313 Presents is offering guests a special 4-pack offer for $90.00 on select tickets and performances of the 2018-19 Fox Theatre Series. The offer is available starting Friday, September 21 at 10 a.m. through Friday, October, 19 at 11:59 p.m. and can be purchased at 313Presents.com/FOX90. Restrictions will apply. Fees not included.
2018-19 Fox Theatre Series Line-Up
Shows currently on sale for the 2018-19 Fox Theatre Series include Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell (November 6 - 17), ELF The Musical (November 20 - 25), A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage (December 15), Mannheim Steamroller Christmas By Chip Davis (December 16), A Christmas Story, The Musical (December 20 - 22), Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker (December 23), ROCK OF AGES (January 18 - 19), Legally Blonde - The Musical (February 9), Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs (March 14), RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles (March 22) and Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA (March 29 - 31) and The Sound of Music (April 13 - 14).
Detroit’s Fox Theatre History
William Fox, the founder of the Fox Corporation, commissioned architect Howard Crane to design the theater – which was completed in a mere 18 months.
The Fox Theatre opened at 2211 Woodward Ave., on Friday, Sept. 21, 1928, and was the largest theater in the city at the time. The Fox Theatre Grand Orchestra performed the Star-Spangled Banner, and a live show called the Evolution of Transportation depicted Detroit history from the 1700’s to 1928. The dancing Fox Tillerettes, Fox Choral Ensemble and William Fox himself were also on hand. The main event was a viewing of the silent movie Street Angel.
In March 1984, Detroiter Chuck Forbes purchased the Fox Theatre and State Theatre (now known as The Fillmore Detroit) with plans to renovate them and build up a theater district in the city. The Fox Theatre purchase was $1 million. In July 1987, Michael and Marian Ilitch purchased the Fox Theatre and began a robust restoration of the building that cost more than $12 million to complete. Upon confirming he and Marian Ilitch’s purchase of the Fox Theatre, Mike Ilitch also announced the relocation of the Little Caesars headquarters from Farmington Hills, Mich., to downtown Detroit.
In addition to the Fox Theatre renovations in 1989, the surrounding office building was restored and still houses many colleagues from the Ilitch companies. After nearly a year-long renovation, 100 percent of the theater was restored, preserving 80 percent of the original finish, with added amenities that cater to discerning corporate and private patrons. The suite level of the theater was converted into a private viewing area, providing an intimate setting for guests in 17 “suite style” boxes.
The Fox Theatre sparkled once again and celebrated its grand re-opening on Nov. 19, 1988 with a show called “Curtains Up.”
In 2006, a tower sign on the roof of the Fox Theatre was dedicated. The sign has a computer-controlled LED light system that is capable of infinite lighting colors.
In October 2015, a renovation of the marquee at the Fox Theatre was completed. The Ilitch organization spearheaded a multi-phase revitalization that added modern LED reader boards, animations for the Theatre’s griffins and new audio capabilities, all while preserving the historic integrity of the signature 1988 marquee design.
The venue was declared a National Historical Landmark on June 29, 1989.
Fox Theatre Restoration: An Early Catalyst for Detroit’s Rebirth
As proud Detroiters, Mike and Marian Ilitch have long been devoted to the city and its revitalization, from entertainment to sports to education. Their purchase of the Fox Theatre was during a period when most companies were moving to the suburbs after decades of decline in Detroit. The bold move to purchase and renovate the Fox Theatre, while relocating their corporate headquarters downtown, was part of the their overall vision to ignite a vibrant, bustling city and produce a dynamic entertainment district.
In 2000, the Ilitches opened Comerica Park just two blocks east of the Fox Theatre. Comerica Park serves as the current home of the Detroit Tigers and hosted the World Series in 2006 and 2012. In August 2002, the 65,000-seat Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, opened adjacent to Comerica Park. In September 2014, ground was broken on the award-winning Little Caesars Arena, which opened in September 2017 and serves as the home of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and countless other sports, entertainment and community events. Little Caesars Arena, operated by the Ilitch organization, is located just three blocks north of the Fox Theatre and is one of the anchors of The District Detroit, a dynamic urban destination in the heart of Detroit and a driving catalyst of the city’s ongoing resurgence.
Fox Theatre Standout Performers
The Fox Theatre has hosted the world’s greatest performers and most popular shows, including The Three Stooges, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations, John Cougar Mellencamp, U2, Run DMC, John Denver, Kid Rock, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Cher, Prince, Kanye West, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Jerry Seinfeld, Neil Young, Mary J. Blige, Prince, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin, ZZ Top, Lauryn Hill and OutKast, Coldplay, Kid Rock and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chris Rock, Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, The Radio City Rockettes, The Magic of David Copperfield, Sesame Street Live, Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple, Jack White and much more.
Starting in 1988, the signature wall, backstage at the Fox Theatre, became a customary spot for all artists to sign their name after a performance. The tradition began with Frank Sinatra and has continued to this day Some notable signatures include Liza Minnelli, Jay Leno, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and Bill Gates. The signatures continue up and down the stairs to the dressing room tower with hundreds of artists and Broadway performers participating.
To this day, Detroit’s crown jewel and an anchor of The District Detroit continues to provide generations of Detroiters countless memories as one of the most elegant theaters in the world while displaying its versatility in hosting hundreds of events per year. Aside from the 2018-19 Theatre Series, upcoming shows currently on-sale at the Fox Theatre include Leon Bridges (Sept. 25), Celtic Thunder (Oct. 6), Christina Aguilera (Oct. 13), Troye Sivan (Oct. 14), Nine Inch Nails (Oct. 22-23), Maxwell (Dec. 1) and The Piano Guys (Dec. 7).
Historical Facts: Detroit’s Fox Theatre
- Detroit’s Fox Theatre is one of the largest theatres in the world.
- The Fox Theatre was the model for a smaller sister theatre in St. Louis, built almost simultaneously.
- The Grand Lobby, which soars six stories, was designed to resemble an ancient Indian temple.
- The Fox Theatre houses the second-largest functioning and surviving Wurlitzer organ in the country today.
- Suspended from the Fox Theatre auditorium ceiling is a two-ton chandelier lit with more than 200 light bulbs.
- Seating capacity for the Fox Theatre is 4,831. The stage is 130 feet long wall-to-wall.
- In October 1935, Detroit Tiger Goose Goslin, lauded as “Detroit’s Public Hero No. 1,” and Tigers broadcaster Ty Tyson appeared for a week at the Fox Theatre for highlights of the 1935 World Series. The Tigers earned their first World Series title that year, winning over the Chicago Cubs.
- On May 25, 1956, Elvis Presley played three shows during a one-day performance at the Fox Theatre. Presley’s debut self-titled album was released in March 1956.
- In November 1963, the Fox Theatre hosted a Motortown Revue, featuring Steve Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, among others.
- In July 1981, The New Fox, as it was called in the Detroit Free Press, reopened with a first-run showing of The Fox and the Hound.
- When Detroit’s Fox Theatre was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, it was one of about 40 places in the state of Michigan with the distinction.
About Olympia Entertainment
Headquartered in the heart of The District Detroit, Olympia Entertainment owns and operates the Fox Theatre, City Theatre and Hockeytown Cafe, and provides facility management services at Little Caesars Arena, DTE Energy Music Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre and Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill. The company also serves as the sales and marketing organization for the Detroit Red Wings and provides additional services to 313 Presents.
Olympia Entertainment is an Ilitch company. Other Ilitch companies include: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Development of Michigan, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., MotorCity Casino Hotel and Champion Foods. The Ilitch companies also maintain a joint venture interest in 313 Presents.
About 313 Presents
Headquartered in the heart of The District Detroit, 313 Presents is a joint venture between Olympia Entertainment and Palace Sports & Entertainment, offering fans, artists, booking agents and touring attractions an unmatched platform of premier entertainment destinations. 313 Presents is responsible for delivering unforgettable fan experiences via best in class booking, production, accounting, marketing and public relations services for world-class entertainment events, concerts, family shows and community functions at Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, DTE Energy Music Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre and Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill. 313 Presents also manages booking, marketing and production of events for City Theatre.