Richard M. Hooley

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Richard Martin Hooley (April 13, 1822 – September 8, 1893) was an American theatre manager, minstrelsy manager, and one of the earliest theatre managers in Chicago.

Hooley was born in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland, and educated in Manchester before first coming to the United States in 1844. After being associated for two years with Christy's Minstrels, he organized a blackface minstrel company and toured England, returning to the United States by 1853. In 1855 he traveled to California and took over the management of Maguire's Opera House in San Francisco.

Brooklyn theatre[edit]

Hooley returned to New York around 1858, and opened a theatre in Brooklyn with Hooley's Minstrels in 1862. It was located at the southwest corner of Court and Remsen streets. Hooley sold his interest in the Brooklyn theatre (known as Hooley's Theatre or other names at other times) in 1878; the building was later demolished and replaced by Dime Savings Bank, which remained at that location until 1908.[1][2][3]

Chicago theatres[edit]

Hooley moved to Chicago around 1870 and opened Hooley's Opera House in January 1871. It was successful but destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire only ninth months later.[4] He then opened Hooley's Theatre in a new location in 1872, on Randolph Street east of LaSalle Street.[5]

Hooley also organized a theatre stock company that featured actors including William Henry Crane and James O'Neill.

Business manager Harry J. Powers took over Hooley's Theatre in Chicago after Hooley's death in 1893.[6] In 1898 he became full owner and renamed it as Powers' Theatre.[7] That year, a history of Hooley's Theatre by Lyman B. Glover was published.[8] The theatre stood until 1924, when it was demolished to accommodate an expansion of the Sherman House hotel. The site is currently part of the land on which the James R. Thompson Center now sits.[9]


Hooley was affectionately called "Uncle Dick". He married Rosina Cramer in 1856, and died at his house in Chicago on September 8, 1893, survived by two daughters. He was buried in Calvary cemetery in that city.[10][11][12]


  1. ^ Floyd-Jones, Thomas. Backwards Glances: Reminiscences of an Old New-Yorker, p. 88 (1914)
  2. ^ Del Valle, Cezar. The Brooklyn Theatre Index, Vol. I, pp. 119-21 (2010)
  3. ^ (28 May 1911). Interesting Contracts in Development Around the Borough Hall of Brooklyn, The New York Times ("Opposite the Garfield Building, on the southwest corner of Court and Remsen Streets, the present site of the old Dime Savings Bank, was Hooley's Minstrels, and among the comedians who delighted early Brooklynites from its stage were Archie Hughes, Billy Birch, Backus, Wambold, and others.")
  4. ^ Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, p. 195 (1996 paperback ed.)
  5. ^ Iroquois Theatre .. Souvenir Programme, pp. 89-91 (1903)
  6. ^ (23 September 1893). Funeral of R.N. Hooley and Anson Temple, New York Dramatic Mirror, p. 14
  7. ^ Brandt, Nat. Chicago Death Trap, p. 10 (2006)
  8. ^ Glover, Lyman B. The Story of a Theatre (1898)
  9. ^ Randall, Frank A. & John D. Randall. History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago, p. 78 (2d ed. 1999)
  10. ^ (9 September 1893). Richard M. Hooley Dead. The Veteran Theatrical Manager Ends His Career in Chicago, The New York Times
  11. ^ Andreas, A.T. History of Chicago, Vol. II, p. 609-10 (1885)
  12. ^ Ellis, Charles Edward. An Authentic History of the Benevolent and Protective ORder of Elks, pp. 116-18 (1910)

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