LINCOLN PARK — A renowned Bleacher Bum is among the last living people to get a Chicago street named after him.
Joe Mantegna Way will be declared at 4 p.m. Wednesday in a ceremony at River Shannon, 425 W. Armitage Ave., where the popular star spent some of his days as a struggling actor before co-writing "Bleacher Bums" and going on to become a Hollywood bigwig.
"Joe is one of Chicago's national treasures," said River Shannon owner Lyn McKeaney. "While his dedication and talent have brought him great success, he has never forgotten the city that he grew up in. He is a tireless supporter of numerous causes, and has really made a positive difference in Chicago and the world at large."
McKeaney led the effort to get Mantegna an honorary street sign starting last year when River Shannon was celebrating its 70th anniversary. Rules for the signs were changed in February so that no living person could have a street named after him or her, but the Mantegna paperwork was already in the City Hall pipeline, and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) shepherded it through in March.
According to McKeaney, Mantegna, a West Side native who'll turn 70 this year, lived in a third-floor apartment above the bar in his formative days when he was studying at the Goodman School of Drama. Mantegna went on to perform in an early Chicago production of "Hair" and the Goodman Theatre's musical version of Studs Terkel's "Working." He was a member of the Organic Theater with fellow future TV stars Dennis Franz and Meshach Taylor, and the company performed the world premiere of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (later "About Last Night" on the big screen) and "Bleacher Bums," conceived and co-written by Mantegna in a loving homage to Cub fans in the bleachers at Wrigley Field.
Mantegna is such a Cub fan, even going back to "Hair" he found a way to slip a Cub T-shirt into his onstage costume.
Mantegna and Mamet, a pair of iconoclastic Chicago figures, worked extensively together. Mantegna won a Tony Award for Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," and he starred in Mamet's movies "House of Games" and "Things Change."
He currently stars in the CBS TV drama "Criminal Minds," and gives voice to the recurring mob character Fat Tony on "The Simpsons."
Bagpipers kick off Wednesday's street dedication at 4 p.m, with the actual ceremony at 4:30 p.m., led by Smith, McKeaney and Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-Chicago). Mantegna will then hold forth with a party at River Shannon until 7 p.m., with all drink sales going to the Easter Seals. The charity's Chief Executive Officer Tim Muri is expected to attend as well.
Mantegna will leave for the Lodge, 21 W. Division St., at 7 p.m. and will sign a brick in the bar's bullpen at 7:30 p.m.