Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Fox Theatre

Detroit’s Fox Theatre was originally billed as “the most magnificent Temple of Amusement in the World.” One visit will dispel any doubts of exaggeration or hyperbole. Ever since its opening night in 1928, audiences have been awed by the venue’s grandeur and colossal expanses. The imposing ten story structure was was designed by C. Howard Crane and wasbuilt as part of the theater empire of film mogul William Fox. He owned hundreds of movie houses nationwide – many named “Fox” – but the Fox in Detroit was the grandest of them all. The original “house staff” of doormen, ushers, designers and matrons numbered more than 400.

After entering through a bank of elegant brass doors and an outer foyer, guests pass into an ornate lobby covering 3,600 square feet and rising six stories high. Beyond this is the elaborate main auditorium, which seats 5,000 and is ringed by a pillared promenade. Throughout the interior, ornamentation and decorations designed by Eve Leo – William Fox’s wife – feature Egyptian, Indian, and Oriental motifs.

The Fox Theatre was the first to include escalators and elevators for patrons and the first in the world to have custom, built-in equipment for presenting talking movies. Between featured films, the Fox’s troupe of chorus girls entertained the audience. Live shows ranged from the Benny Goodman Big Band to Berry Gordy’s annual Motown Revue.

Mike and Marian Ilitch purchased the Fox in 1987 and headquartered their various business enterprises in the building’s extensive office space. They also undertook a full renovation of the theater’s neglected splendor. Today, Detroit’s Fox Theatre ranks as one of the most magnificent and profitable entertainment destinations in the country.



Fox Theatre postcard, 1929

Fox Theatre marquee and entrance, 1985

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