Rolling Hills Theatre

2535 Pacific Coast Highway,
Torrance, CA 90505

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Showing 76 - 100 of 155 comments

mooveez on March 5, 2007 at 8:35 pm

My little sister and I spent most Saturdays in the late ‘60s and early '70s watching Disney double features at the Rolling Hills Theater. All of our friends would be there – all of us parentless. That’s what made the brutality of the '73 murders even more shocking – this had been the safe place in the area to leave your kids for a few hours. It was truly an end of innocence for us all – both children and adults. (My father was the local locksmith at the time, and was called by the police to change all of the building’s locks even before word of the murders had been released. I can still remember the tension when he came home that night.) A huge turning point in my childhood.

kencmcintyre on February 15, 2007 at 10:48 am

Too bad the messages deal with such a sad situation, though.

jackhicko on February 14, 2007 at 10:31 pm

I ’ve been checking this board for years waiting for these last few messages… thank you so much!

KimF on February 3, 2007 at 2:46 pm

That answers one of my questions; Clyde Felts was the projectionist. Thank you, Ken Mc. I’m thinking he must have been working there when I frequented the Rolling Hills.

Does anyone remember the ‘60s Saturday Matinees? I was there very often from about 1964 (assuming the theater was built by then) to mid-1969 (my family moved to Las Vegas in July 1969).

Reading about this horrible thing that happened a mere four years later just breaks my heart. All of my memories of Torrance were so wonderful. This is like an end to such an ‘innocent’ time, you know?

kencmcintyre on February 3, 2007 at 7:27 am

Here is the earliest version of events dated 2/13/73:

TORRANCE. Calif. (AP) â€"Hundreds of children rimmed the Rolling Hills Theater in this Los Angeles suburb waiting to get the best seats when the doors opened for a special holiday matinee. But the doors were not opened, and the crowds were turned away Monday after police discovered the bodies of four theater employees on a blood-splattered floor. Police Lt. James Foster likened the slayings to “an execution.” He said the victims â€"three men and woman â€" were found with their throats slashed and their hands tied behind their backs.

Police said the slayings apparently occurred late Sunday during a robbery of the theater’s weekend receipts, about $2,000, from an office safe Investigators said they had no clues as to the killer or killers. The victims were identified as Lynda R. Freeman, 32, assistant cashier; George Cernik, 18, usher: Guy Brown, 32, doorman, and Clyde Felts, 55, projectionist. The bodies were discovered after a relative of one victim told police the theater employee had not returned home, police said.

Investigators said they were uncertain why the robber or robbers found it necessary to kill the four, since each already had been immobilized. “It makes no sense,” Foster said. “It’s only speculation, but it looks like they were kneeling when they were killed,” Foster said. He said all the victims were found face down.

Investigators speculated that one of the employees had been forced to open the safe after the night’s receipts had been deposited.

KimF on February 1, 2007 at 4:05 am

How very, very sad… Does anyone know how long Clyde Felts worked there and was he the Projectionist? Seeing his name haunts my memory. As a child in the mid-‘60s, were those of us in the audience for the wonderful Saturday matinees prompted to holler “Hi Clyde!!” ??

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Here is a newspaper account of the murders, dated 4/30/73:

Torrance police said today the mass murder of four Rolling Hills theater employees last February and the execution slaying of a Torrance store manager in the following month were committed by one man â€" and that man is now dead. Lt. James Foster identified the suspect as John Roy Mahew, 29, who died of an overdose of barbiturates April 3 in the Torrance jail. “From evidence carefully collected concerning this suspect since his death, the Torrance police are satisfied that he was solely responsible for the theater massacre and for the murder at the Torrance TG&Y store,” Foster said.

Mahew was arrested April 2, when officers went to his Torrance residence to pick him up on outstanding traffic warrants. Because of a past record of more than 20 arrests as an adult, officers said, several units were sent to make the arrest. Foster said the officers had been warned by a tipster that Mahew was armed and had vowed he would not submit to arrest.

THE ARRESTING force was refused admittance on arrival at the residence, Foster said, and Mahew refused to come out. When the police threatened to use tear gas, the suspect finally emerged after a long stand-off. Lt. Foster said that as Mahew was being placed under arrest, he grabbed for his boot but was restrained by arresting officers. A small pistol later was found in the boot, Foster said. On the following morning, the lieutenant said, Mahew was found unconscious in his cell and was pronounced dead a short time later. An autopsy revealed the death was caused by an overdose of barbiturates, presumably taken hurriedly by the suspect on the previous afternoon before he emerged from the house and surrendered, police said.

Lt. Foster said Mahew had been under suspicion in the Rolling Hills theater murders and in the TG&Y slaying before police went to make the arrest on traffic warrants. “But it took this intervening time to check out all the tips we had received and collect the physical evidence necessary to mark the case closed,” he added. Foster said traces of blood on a butcher knife found at Mahew’s home and some of the suspect’s clothes matched the blood type of two of the Rolling Hills theater victims. Mahew’s boot also matched a bootprint found by the body of one of the theater victims, he said. Bloodstains found in Mahew’s car matched the blood type of Jack K. Sweeten, assistant manager of the Torrance variety store, who was found with his hands bound and his throat cut in a storeroom early on Mar. 28, police said.

THE FOUR theater victims â€" Lynda R. Freeman, 32, Clyde Felts, 55, Guy D. Brown, 35 and George Cernick, 18 â€"were found in the theater office early on Feb. 12. Their hands had been bound behind their backs and their throats were slashed. Foster said Mahew, unemployed and behind on all his bills prior to Feb. 12, suddenly began spending money immediately after the theater robbery, and again exhibited affluence following the TG&Y robbery-slaying.

stevebopp on June 13, 2006 at 1:59 pm

In Feb ‘73 I worked at South Bay #1 which is now a discount multiplex. The story we heard about the murders was that the assistant manager tried to tip off a phone caller DURING the crime. When reporting the days receipt total, the $$$ figure given over the phone was 0 $$$, meaning that SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE, SEND HELP!! Evidently, the number wasn’t questioned in time. Redondo police responded by stationing an officer on the May Company (now Robinson’s) roof with binoculars. We carried baseball bats while locking up for a couple weeks, checking behind curtains, etc.

Shookers on May 27, 2006 at 6:54 pm

I was working at the United Artists Theater across from the Rolling Hills Theater the night of the murder. At the time it was managed by a Mr. Al Lee. ALter a Mrs. Alvarez co-managed the theater. She was truly an elegant lady and kind person. The Torrance police had pain clothed officers stationed in our theater for weeks after the murders. I beleive the film being shown was “The Posiedon Adventure. One unfortunate officer must have sat thriugh thsi film over 30 times. As a coinsidence my wife’s former husband was an usher at the Rolling Hills Theater. He was scheduled to work the night of the murders but switched with another usher. He became breifly became a suspect before it learned that he was having an affair with a married woman with whom he was with that terible night. His initial evasiveness during questioning by the police as to his where abouts was interpreted as guilt of the crime rather than of having an affair.

rrhea on May 16, 2006 at 6:43 pm

The slated-roof building is still quite visible on Google Earth, at 2561 Airport Dr, Torrance, CA. I remember seeing “101 Dalmatians” on New Years' eve there in 1969. It was a wonderful, big theater.

I was 12 years old and living in Palos Verdes at the time of the murders, which occurred on Feb 11, 1973. Most people including myself were very scared by them, and we assumed that it must be a Manson-style gang. It turns out that one guy did it. He also killed a convenience store manager about a month later in the same manner, tying the victim’s hands and cutting his throat. A couple of months after the murders, the Torrance Police came to his house to arrest him on a traffic warrant. There was a brief standoff. He tried to pull a gun on the police, so they searched his house. They found a bloody knife with a rare blood type matching one of the theater victims. (no DNA testing was available in 1973) His neighbors saw him disposing of bloody clothing right after both murders, and his friends said that he suddenly had a large amount of cash in mid-February, despite being unemployed. The guy took a lot of drugs during the police standoff and died of an overdose a few hours later.

jmarellano on April 6, 2006 at 7:38 pm

Go to the local live website and you can view the building from all 4 angles. looking south you can really tell the roofline.

Ed Collins
Ed Collins on April 6, 2006 at 6:22 pm


I was an assistant manager at the Rolling Hills for six months, in the early to mid 1980s.

Based upon that photo, and my somewhat hazy memory, I would say yes, that building in the photo directly below the AMC 20 Theatres building is (was) the Rolling Hills Theatre.

The shape of the building looks the same and the shops below and to the right of the theatre look about right.

It’s been AGES since I was out that way. I should drive out there sometime and take a look at it.

jmarellano on April 6, 2006 at 2:35 pm

Using , is this the Rolling Hills Theatre?

View link

dennis906 on April 4, 2006 at 9:53 am

I came across a Motiograph only twice in my nearly 22 year career (1974-1996).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 3, 2006 at 6:23 pm

Address: 2535 Pacific Coast Highway (per stevorini’s comment of April 14, 2005, now about midpoint on this page.)

William on January 31, 2006 at 4:01 am

Motiograph projectors were 35mm only.

MagicLantern on January 30, 2006 at 9:09 pm

Bump for an address update.

seattlegene on January 23, 2006 at 5:52 am

I was at the Grand Opening of the Rolling Hills. I guess Tab Hunter was there but as a 16 y/o boy I only remember seeing Suzanne Pleshette and Shirley Jones. My father was the Chief Projectionist for SRO at the time and we came down to Torrance so he could handle the finishing touches. I recall that when they put the Cinemascope lenses on part of the picture was blocked by the ports. Either the projectors were mounted too close to the ports or the ports were cut too small, I can’t recall now but they had to cut the ports bigger to resolve the problem. Also recall that the outside roof was originally flat but a rain storm that caused leakage into the auditorium and I think it was modified, that may have been before the Grand Opening, not sure but I just remember Dad saying “I told them not to build a flat roof”.

moviebluedog on October 8, 2005 at 7:17 pm

I found a reference in Motion Picture Herarld to this theatre’s projection equipment. Is anybody familiar with Motiograph? Was this projector capable of showing both 35mm and 70mm? The only references I’ve found on it said certain Motiograph projectors were built in the 1800s to 1940s. It seems unusual that a then-new theatre in Rolling Hills would be equipped with an old projection system.

William on August 23, 2005 at 8:32 am

Hoppy: I learned 70MM over at the Avco. We doubled the 70MM reels.

cheviothills on August 23, 2005 at 8:23 am

WILLIAM: Only a perfectionist like you would mention a small error like this. I was there in 1972 specifically to learn 70mm. I was also there in 1974 again. In 1975 I worked full time at the Dome. The only other 70mm work I did was at the Picwood. The booth chief was Hugh Smith who was Local 150 president. Since I always had a bad back I was taught a trick to lift the heavy reels because I could not lift them from the floor to the upper magazines. I put a 3 foot stool next to each projector. I lifted from the floor to the stool took a breath and then lifted from the stool to the magazine. As to the precise film you may be right.

William on August 23, 2005 at 4:52 am

hoppy you posted above on Aug.15th 8:30pm.
“Where I was taught 70MM was at the Pantages during Godfather #1”.
Well Godfather #1 was booked into the Loew’s on Hollywood Blvd. (aka: Paramount, El Capitan)in Hollywood and the Village in Westwood, both in 35mm not 70MM. The Pantages played Godfather, Part 2 along with the Village & National, again only in 35mm.

cheviothills on August 22, 2005 at 10:16 pm

FRIENDS: I just started a really nice album of theatres at WEBSHOTS as Joe Vogel suggested. I got help to get it right. Hell! What does a retired Projectionist understand about PC’S?

cheviothills on August 22, 2005 at 8:28 pm

Mr.Vogel: I posted a very rare picture of the Palms near Culver City. I don’t understand being over 60 how to put links on Webshots so people can see the picture if I put it under the Palms where it truly belongs.

cgarza on August 22, 2005 at 7:24 pm

BaHa I just remembered, I got hailed to the projectionist room in early 1984 and was asked to South High Prom by my date in there!!!

Newberry’s, my friend (Nina’s sister) worked there and was held up in a robbery in the early 80’s, I remember her calling me freaking out…

The murders were in the office I believe? Not the projection room? :)