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To former employees of the South Hills Theatre:
My former SHT co-workers and I are searching for former South Hills Theatre projectionist, John O'Reilly. We would like to reconnect and say “hello” to John if possible. He worked at the theater from perhaps 1983 until 1985 or 1986. We are assuming he is in his early to mid 50’s now. If anyone here knows anything about John, could you please share any information about John’s whereabouts with us? We tried finding him on Facebook, but it’s quite challenging with such a common name. We do not even know if he resides in the Pittsburgh area today. Sorry that I do not have more information to go on. Thank you for any help you can give us.
A friend of mine, who is also a former Usher from the SHT, said he walked passed there around 5/16 and saw construction crews, so we concluded that the demolition will be soon.
An idea for anyone who lives or works near the SHT: If you could please snap some photos of the theater as it is being demolished and post them at the South Hills Theater’s Facebook group. I would do it myself if I were closer to Dormont, but I’m not. A lot of the photos that are currently posted at that group are ones that I snapped myself in May, 2009.
Sad news for former employees as well as former patrons of the South Hills Theatre/Cinema 4 who have fond memories of this old theater: it’s going to be torn down!!
I received the following message from one of my former co-workers from the SHT:
I found out that CVS has purchased the South Hills Theatre along with all of the property from the corner on down to the Animal Hospial. They plan on tearing down the theatre along with the house next to it and putting up a big CVS store. So, after nine years of sitting vacant, looks like the theatre is coming to an end.
I am extremely sad and disappointed to hear this news. I was really hoping for a buyer that would renovate and bring new life to this theater, but those dreams have just ended.
SHTusher: As you can see, the photo is dated 11/83. There is a chance that I am inside the building at the time this photo was snapped as I worked there from 8/82 – 8/86! What a trip down memory lane it is for me to see those photos!
Now if we could only find photos of the interior of the theater before it became C4….(I know, wishful thinking on my part)
Denny, thank you so much for posting those photos!!!!!!!! I have been searching the net for photos of the theater with “SHT” on the marquee rather than “C4” but have been unsuccessful. Those photos sure do bring back memories! I especially like the night shot…
SHTusher: If you would’ve stuck around the SHT a little while longer, you and I most likely would’ve worked together as I started working there in 1982, as I mentioned in an earlier post. I enjoyed reading your memories of SHT. A few years back, I got in touch with another former usher that I used to work with and he is a freelance writer/musician now. He said he came up with the idea to write a book about the SHT, and he even has a good title in mind for it: “The South Hills Theatre: Behind the Marquee.” He said he was thinking about interviewing former employees and getting their memories and stories about the theater, and then putting it all in a book. I told him that is a great idea, but I don’t know if he’ll ever do it. Some of my memories: I heard “rumors” that concession girl(s) before I came along would collect the used, empty cups from the floor in the auditorium after the 1st show, then re-sell popcorn and cold drinks to customers for the 2nd show using the cups they collected and then secretly pocket the cash. However, I believe they eventually were caught and got fired for doing that. (Perhaps I was hired to replace one of them.) Then, there was a hole in the wall between the ladies restroom and the janitorial room and the ushers would peep through the hole as female patrons (or employees) were using the facilities!! I believe eventually that hole was patched up! When we had the movie “Ghandi” playing, it was like a 3-hr movie, so we had an intermission. Some of the patrons came out to the lobby to pray or worship, but at the time, I didn’t know why because I never saw the movie nor did I know the story. Lastly, sometimes on Sat. or Sun. we would have to work both the matinee and the evening shows, so someone would pick up a pizza so that we could eat dinner between shifts. So when patrons arrived for the evening show, the lobby still had the aroma of pizza, so they would come up to the concession stand and order pizza. We would have to say we don’t sell pizza here, even though everyone could clealy smell it!
I was very much hoping for the SHT to be completely renovated and re-open for business someday, but I think the people who were trying to make that happen ran into financial problems and gave up the idea. They used to have a website, but the link no longer works. However, their MySpace page is still around and they have photos of the deteriorating interior of the theater. Click here if you’d like to see those photos:
A SHT reunion would be cool; if my former co-worker ever writes that book, it could be a SHT reunion/book launch party!
Paul, I hadn’t heard that the Hollywood closed until I read your post. I’m so disappointed to hear that. Recently, I read that the Denis Theater in Mt. Lebanon is also getting renovated:
I also hope that the news about the Hollywood doesn’t hurt the chances of the South Hills Theatre getting renovated and re-opening. The fact their website is down concerns me. I used to browse their website from time to time to get updates on it’s progress. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens…
I just checked out the website. When the announcement is made as to the date of the inaugural production, my husband and I will be there for sure! I’ll keeping checking the website periodically for updates.
Thank you so much for posting that website! I had no knowledge of its existence. When I first saw the photo though, I said, nope that’s not the South Hills Theatre I’m thinking of, this must be another South Hills Theatre. So I referred to a recent photo of SHT and compared it to that one, and concluded it is the the same theater! I was amazed! I see both differences and similarities to the theater I remember from the 80’s. I would be absolutely devastated if a developer were to tear down that building. I realize it has deteriorated over the years, but I think it would serve the community better to restore it whether it be for 1st run movies, 2nd run movies or live shows. I will keep my eyes and ears open to see what happens. I’m hoping that since the Hollywood Theatre is about to re-open again that the same happens for the SHT.
You mentioned some things that also brought back memories for me! I remember Mr. Baker as well as Mr. Stone and Mr. Seng. I remember those nice offices upstairs, and if my memory is correct, there was even a shower up there! I remember Jo Lynn’s Pizza (but I forgot the name until you mentioned it). We would get their pizza A LOT during our break between matinee and evening shows. I also remember Isaly’s, I remember going there for milkshakes or ice cream.
I have to tell you this…when you mentioned that your dad played music that was piped into the theater, I remember that too! The reason why I remember is that one day, I heard a song played by your dad by a group called Yaz (or Yazoo). Yaz wasn’t a well known group because they weren’t “Top 40”, but I knew of them and had their album at home. I was so happy to hear that played over the loudspeakers before the movie started. I remember overhearing a customer nearby asking is this a disco? I laughed inside.
I also remember the theater periodically having organ concerts. I remember the name of the organist was Dennis, but cannot remember his last name. I remember talking with Dennis when he’d come to the concession stand.
I also remember there being a show, not a movie, but a live show of some sort and Mr. Fred Rogers (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood) attended this show, accompanied by his bodyguards. I remember being thrilled to see him in person because I, like many others, watched him on TV when I was a little kid.
I could go on and on with my memories. It’s fun taking a trip down memory lane.
When I was a teenager, I worked at the South Hills Theatre as a concession girl from 1982 to 1986. I worked, and was fairly acquainted, with your father while he was the projectionist there. My sympathies to you for losing your father in such a tragic way and at such a young age. I never heard that rumor that you saw on a blog. I can, however, share my experience of the night that your dad passed away. The theater had the movie “E.T.” showing, we had a full house (the floor and balcony were filled). Your dad was scheduled to work that night, but he never showed up and never called. The manager was concerned and called our boss at home and asked what to do. We were told that not just anyone can go up to the projection booth and play the movie, that it had to be someone from the union. They attempted to get a fill-in to replace your dad, but on such short notice, they were unable to do so. Therefore, the manager had to get up on the stage and announce to the audience that the movie is cancelled because we have no projectionist and they will issue refunds. The manager gave each customer a refund plus a free pass. Since there were so many people, it took a long time. I remember, when I got home that night, being completely devastated and filled with such sadness not to mention in shock that someone I knew and liked was now gone. As it turned out, in the four years that I worked at that theater, three people that I worked with passed away, your dad and two others.
I have fond memories of your dad from the times that I did work with him. Once he got the movie started, he would come down to the concession stand for a break and get some popcorn and a soft drink and he would tell us (concession girls, ushers and manager) funny (and often dirty) jokes. However, since I was so young, I didn’t always “get them” so someone in the group always had to explain the punchline to me. I didn’t know anything about his life outside the theater, only that he was a really nice guy to work with. I missed his presence around there during the remainder of my employment there.
Lastly, I saw that show “Things That Aren’t There Anymore” from beginning to end. Yes indeed they interviewed a man inside the theater before it was renovated for the C4. Seeing that short little scene with the theater that I was so familiar with in the background brought back so many fond memories for me.
I also hope that someone buys the theater and restores it to it’s former glory. If and when that ever happens, I’ll be there for it’s grand re-opening! (Keeping my fingers crossed)
Please feel free to share more of your memories of your dad or of the theater. I love reminiscing about things of the past that are near and dear to my heart and the South Hills Theatre is one of them.
I used to work for the South Hills Theatre (Cinema 4) from 1982-1986. I really liked working there and have many fond memories of my time there. After reading a newspaper article saying that the Hollywood Theatre in Dormont is currently being renovated and will be opening up for business soon, it made me wonder what is going on with the South Hills Theatre, which eventually brought me here. I really hope that the same happens with the South Hills Theatre too as it breaks my heart to see it in its current condition when I drive past it. If I were given the opportunity to walk through it today, I would probably be really sad from reading comments pertaining to the description of the interior. I agree with Mad Monkey, I too would like to see it returned to its former glory.