Wabash Avenue (film)

Wabash Avenue is a 1950 Technicolor American musical film directed by Henry Koster and starring Betty Grable. The film was a remake of Grable's earlier hit 1943 film Coney Island.

Wabash Avenue
Directed byHenry Koster
Produced byWilliam Perlberg
Written byCharles Lederer
Harry Tugend
StarringBetty Grable
Victor Mature
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
CinematographyArthur E. Arling
Edited byRobert L. Simpson
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 24, 1950 (1950-05-24)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,050,000 (US rentals)[1][2]


Ruby Summers (Betty Grable) is a burlesque queen in a successful dance hall in 1892 Chicago. The owner of the dance hall Mike (Phil Harris) has cheated his ex-partner Andy Clark (Victor Mature) out of a half interest in the business. Andy schemes to potentially ruin Mike and also hopes to make Ruby a classy entertainer, as well as his own girl.



Wabash Avenue, named from a major Chicago street, was reportedly conceived as a biopic of Chicago songwriter Gus Kahn. Negotiations dissolved but exhibitors had been promised that title so 20th Century Fox hastily substituted a rewrite of its 1943 Coney Island. (The Kahn biopic was made at Warner Bros. in 1951 as I'll See You in My Dreams, with Danny Thomas as Kahn.)

The film became a vehicle for Betty Grable with Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas to co-star. The setting was to be the 1893 Chicago Exposition.[3] Eventually Widmark was replaced by Victor Mature.[4] Eventually Paul Douglas dropped out and was replaced by Phil Harris.

Filming started on 9 May 1949.[5] It was the first in a three-picture contract Koster had with Fox.[6]

The film featured five new numbers in addition to some old favourites. 87 sets were constructed included a recreation of Wabash Avenue.[7][8]

Grable enjoyed working with director Henry Koster so much she insisted he direct her next film, My Blue Heaven.[9]


Wabash Avenue also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for the number Wilhelmina.


  1. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1950', Variety, January 3, 1951
  2. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 223
  3. METRO BUYS STORY FOR MISS HEPBURN: Studio Plans to Co-Star Actress and Tracy in Kanin-Gordon Comedy, 'Man and Wife' By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 Jan 1949: 14.
  4. M'CREA GETS LEAD IN METRO PICTURE: To Play Clergyman in 'Stars in My Crown,' Based on Novel -- Fitts Doing Scenario By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Mar 1949: 31.
  5. Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 May 1949: 29.
  6. BRYAN FOY IN DEAL WITH WARNER BROS.: Will Join Studio as Producer After Completing Eagle-Lion Films -- Has 3-Year Pact By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 29 Mar 1949: 31.
  7. Letter From Hollywood By Frank Daugherty. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 17 June 1949: 5.
  8. HOLLYWOOD GLAMORIZES OLD. Wendt, Lloyd. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 24 July 1949: C4.
  9. GRABLE TO APPEAR IN 'BLUE HEAVEN': Star Ends Hold-Out Against the Fox Studios -- Koster Will Direct as She Preferred. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Oct 1949: 37.
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