My personal memories of Star Plaza Theatre extend to the entertainment mecca's very beginning.
Along with the rest of my family, I've always been an avid fan of the world of entertainment and was exposed to the joys of live music, theater, dance and comedic shows at a young age.
As a teen, I attended the first concert - "4 Girls 4"- with my sister Eve at the Holiday Star Theatre in December of 1979. Not only was it exciting to be in a new world-class theater so close to our South Chicago home but as Rosemary Clooney fans, we were thrilled to be able to see her live in that revue.
That show was only the beginning of decades of entertainment I've enjoyed on that stage. I started going to Star Plaza Theatre as simply a fan and later covered many shows there as a journalist.
The list of artists I've seen grace the Star Plaza Theatre stage is varied and lengthy.
As a longtime Osmond fan, I saw many performances by The Osmond Family as well as separate shows by Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond and the combo of Donny and Marie at Holiday Star Theatre and Star Plaza.
My friends and I would often make it an extended weekend there at the annexed hotel whenever we'd attend an Osmond gig during the holiday season. My friends Roseanne and Anita often would arrive a day before the show to go Christmas shopping at nearby Southlake Mall.
Through the years, I've enjoyed shows at Star Plaza Theatre by everyone from Liberace, Hall and Oates and Donna Summer to Johnny Mathis The Jacksons, The Moody Blues, Dancing with the Stars Live, Tom Jones and many more.
I remember seeing The Beach Boys there in 1982, and watching how Brian Wilson got up from the keyboards in the middle of a song, left the stage and about 5 minutes later nonchalantly came back. Audience members weren't privy to anything about his private life at the time. But that was most likely near the time period depicted in the movie "Love and Mercy," showcasing what the legendary singer went through in his personal life.
I also had the honor of seeing the legendary Mitzi Gaynor at Star Plaza Theatre in 2000. Gaynor was performing her new one-woman show and the theater also arranged for her to appear at a dinner held in the hotel's Jolly Ginger restaurant. We enjoyed recipes of Gaynor's during the dinner.
And prior to the debut of what's now termed official "meet and greets," there are many memories of meeting the artists who performed there either on the premises of the theater or as they walked from the venue to the connected hotel.
It was customary for members of The Osmond family to happily greet fans, sign autographs and take photos with fans in the hallways of the hotel as they traveled to their rooms after a show. After seeing Rosemary Clooney and daughter-in-law Debbie Boone and grandchildren perform a Christmas show there in 1992, my sister and I met and talked with Clooney and Boone as they leisurely walked through the bridge that annexed the theater to the hotel. Clooney, wearing a casual trench coat, and Boone, were carting bags and items to their hotel room after the performance.
I also had the opportunity of stepping on that stage myself as a volunteer for The Times' newspaper's sponsorship of a past Taste of Home Cooking Show at Star Plaza Theatre.
I'll greatly miss the Star Plaza Theatre and the diverse roster of entertainment, musical acts and more that were performed on that stage.