St. Louis, Missouri
April 17 — May 8, 1961
Gaslight Square in St. Louis, Missouri, was a thriving entertainment district—the Greenwich Village of the Midwest. Live jazz, beat poetry and restaurants were teaming with bohemians. Jay and Fran Landesman established the Crystal Palace in 1958. Jay had an eye for talent and booked many up-and-coming performers at the Palace, including Lenny Bruce, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Woody Allen, Phyllis Diller, the Smothers Brothers and Dick Gregory.
Comedian Lenny Bruce called the Crystal Palace “a church gone bad.” And Jay Landesman said it was a “cross between a church and a movie palace, without the reverence.” The 300-seat room had large, brass chandeliers with crystals, a sizable stained glass mural, and ornate wooden paneling. Its walls were painted fire engine red.
Barbra Streisand played the Crystal Palace for four weeks in 1961 in a variety revue called “Caught in the Act.” Advertising the performers “from the Jack Paar Show,” Streisand was billed with the Smothers Brothers and Irish-American comic Mark London.
The St. Louis newspapers wrote that Barbra was a “chic singer with vocal prowess unusual for a girl of 18.”
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