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Bruce S. Trinz, owner of legendary Clark Theater, dies

Bruce Trinz owned operated Clark Theater Clark Madisuntil his death July 7 Philadelphia.

Bruce Trinz owned and operated the Clark Theater, at Clark and Madison, until his death July 7 in Philadelphia.

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Updated: July 20, 2011 4:40PM

Bruce S. Trinz, who owned and operated the legendary Clark Theater in Chicago’s Loop, died July 7 in Philadelphia. He was 93.

For postwar generations of movie lovers, the Clark, at Clark and Madison, was a mecca. After Mr. Trinz came back in 1946 from serving with the U.S. Army Air Forces and took over management of the house from his father and uncle, the Clark exhibited a different double feature every day of 35mm prints, 730 films a year.

He came from a longtime movie family. His fathers and uncles began the family movie theater business, Lubliner and Trinz, in the first decade of the 1900s, predating the other Chicago movie moguls, Balaban & Katz.

Under Mr. Trinz’s guidance, the Clark became one of the first repertory movie theaters in the United States. Film buffs and people “on the margins” shared seats 22 hours a day at the Clark. Mr. Trinz published a monthly newsletter with two-line rhymes about each showing (“Sled is the bane/Of Citizen Kane.”)

Because of a sometimes dicey crowd, Mr. Trinz set aside one of his balconies as “The Little Gal-ery for Gals Only.” In the late 1960s, he offered an unbeatable deal on Saturdays and Sundays: $2.25 bought both a double feature and a complete Chinese dinner at the Bamboo Inn next door. The theater closed in 1969, in part because studios discontinued their local film exchanges.

As an English major at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Mr. Trinz became fascinated by films and their history. He taught film history at the Institute of Design at IIT and at Northwestern University for many years. After the Clark closed, he was involved with booking foreign and classic American films in theaters in both Chicago and Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s.

Born Dec. 30, 1917, in Chicago, Mr. Trinz married interior designer Florin Bear Trinz in 1946. After their divorce, he married hospital administrator Nancy McDougal in Philadelphia in the mid-1980s; they divorced in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Trinz is survived by his only daughter, Bundy, who also worked in the film business for many years in Chicago.

A July 31 memorial service is planned in Philadelphia.

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