Crystal Palace

Gaslight Square, Missouri

4240 Olive

Gaslight Square

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. It had live jazz, beat poetry and its restaurants were full of 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.

(Below: Inside the Crystal Palace, and a publicity photo of Jay and Fran Landesman, proprietors of the venue.)

Jay and Fran Landesman

(Below: Inside the Crystal Palace; and views of Gaslight Square)

Inside, outside of Crystal Palace

The St. Louis newspapers wrote that Barbra was a “chic singer with vocal prowess unusual for a girl of 18.”

Vintage poster: Crystal Palace presents CAUGHT IN THE ACT, a variety revue with music


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