Mister Kelly's collection
Scope and Contents
Archival material collected to document the history of Chicago nightclubs Mister Kelly's and London House, and the comedy club The Happy Medium, from the 1940s through the 1970s. Includes photographs, memorabilia, books, periodicals, posters, artifacts, and some promotional and administrative records. The collection also includes more current material and audio and video interviews about the history of the clubs, some of which were used in the film “Live at Mister Kelly’s.”
- Creation: 1945-2019
- Mister Kelly's (Nightclub) (Organization)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
Series 1-9 are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III). Accessing the digital audiovisual material, Series 10, is onsite at the Newberry only.
Conditions Governing Use
David Marienthal (donor) retains copyright to original material created by him and Happy Medium productions, including the oral histories recorded on audio and video. Permission to copy, quote from, or use any material, in whole or in part, is not allowed without the express written permission of David Marienthal.
History of Mister Kelly's and other clubs owned by George and Oscar Marienthal
Brothers George Marienthal (1909-1972) and Oscar Marienthal (1913-1963) founded and managed three successful nightclubs in Chicago: Mister Kelly’s (1953-1975), The London House (1946-1975), and The Happy Medium (1960-late 1970s). London House, which was located in the London Guarantee Building, 85 E. Wacker Drive in Chicago's North Loop, was a destination for steak dinner and live jazz performances. Mister Kelly's opened on 1028 North Rush Street in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood in 1953, and featured both live jazz performances and stand-up comedy along with dinner menu. The Happy Medium, a stage space for sketch and improv comedy as well as musicals, opened in 1960 at 901 North Rush Street, just a block south of Mister Kelly's.
The clubs were notable for many reasons. One reason was their inclusivity in welcoming Black and white audiences, as well as hiring Black and white staff and booking Black and white entertainers, all of which was unusual in segregated Chicago. They were also notable because of the talent they hired; many comedians, musicians, actors, and other entertainers started in their early career years at one of these clubs and later became national and international stars. Examples include Ramsey Lewis, Lainie Kazan, Barbra Streisand, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Richard Pryor, Dick Gregory, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Della Reese, Bob Newhart, and Steve Martin.
David Marienthal, son of George and nephew of Oscar, began to collect photographs and other memorabilia about the clubs in the 2010s. in 2016, with the intent of making a documentary film, he also hired Adam Carston to research with him the history of the clubs and also conduct oral interivews with those involved in them. Their efforts resulted in over 100 audio and video interviews with key figures in the history, as well as a film entitled, "Live at Mister Kelly's" and released in 2021.
12 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 5 oversize boxes)
Archival material collected to document the history of Chicago nightclubs Mister Kelly's and London House, and the comedy club The Happy Medium, from the 1940s through the 1970s. Includes photographs, memorabilia, books, periodicals, posters, artifacts, and some promotional and administrative records. The clubs were all owned and run by Chicagoans George and Oscar Marienthal. The collection also includes more current material and audio and video interviews about the history of the clubs, some of which were used in the film “Live at Mister Kelly’s.”
Materials are arranged in the following series: Series 1: Photographs, 1954-1977 - Boxes 1-2 Series 2: Window Cards, 1971-1975 - Boxes 2-3 Series 3: Memorabilia, 1945-2021 - Boxes 3-5 Series 4: Happy Medium Administrative Files, 1959-1980 - Boxes 6-7 Series 5: This Week in Chicago issues, 1954-1978, 2018 - Boxes 8-10 Series 6: Commercial Sound Recordings, 1955-2018 - Boxes 11-14 Series 7: Posters, 1971-1973 - Boxes 15-16 Series 8: Artifacts - Box 17 Series 9: Oversize - Boxes 18-19; loose items Series 10: Audiovisual materials (digital)
1 42 7; 1 45 7; 2 48 6-7
Gift, David Marienthal, 2020-.
Alison Hinderliter, 2022.
- Marienthal, David (Donor, Person)
- Mister Kelly's (Nightclub) (Organization)
- Marienthal, George (Person)
- Marienthal, Oscar (Person)
- Lewis, Ramsey (Person)
- Kazan, Lainie (Person)
- Streisand, Barbra (Person)
- Stiller, Jerry (Person)
- Meara, Anne (Person)
- Pryor, Richard, 1940-2005 (Person)
- Gregory, Dick (Person)
- Midler, Bette (Person)
- Tomlin, Lily (Person)
- Reese, Della (Person)
- Newhart, Bob (Person)
- Martin, Steve, 1945- (Person)
- Mister Kelly's collection, 1940s-2018
- Language of description
- Script of description