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Who are you Ironhide27? It was probably the most dangerous marquee in the company. The last I heard, Delfin runs a theatre company in South America. I want to remind “early” Del Amo followers of “Ping Pong Pandemonium”, a promotion launched by Miss Burger in which helicopters dropped thousands of numbered ping pong balls over the parking lot behind the theatre, to a waiting crowd of thousands of people, stampeding from one side to the other, following the swaying copter, trying to catch them. Many injuries and lawsuits. But it was spectacular! I and my assistant managers watched from the roof as the catastrophe unfolded.
UA Santa Ana was opened and managed by Bert and Nettie Naus. This was my first assistant manager job in 1967-68. We opened The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde to spectacular business. We had 815 seats, half of which were loge. The challenge at the time was to protect the loge seating from those buying regular tickets. We finally decided to form two separate lines and let the loge in first. I know – slow learning curve. Our projectionist was Dennis O'Dell. Kindly Nettie (maybe 5' tall with her heels on) and gruff Mr. Naus really taught me how a theatre should be run. They were in their 60’s at the time and had a notable history with Metropolitan in downtown Los Angeles and with United Artists in San Francisco before UA Santa Ana. Employees at the time — Jean, John S. (who was an usher at my wedding in 1969), Bill H., and Luther W. Every Fri and Sat after closing, Bert, Nettie, Dennis, his wife Kris, and I would go to Jerry’s BBQ on 17th St for drinks, and sometimes for breakfast. The theatre was so much more than its history with Mitchell Bros. When they took over, the city of Santa Ana had the distinction of putting elderly Nettie Naus in jail on obscenity charges for selling popcorn where the porno films were screened. Bert and Nettie are gone now but their memories will live long with the hundreds of employees who had the privilege and happiness of working and learning from them.
I began my theatre career at United Artists Pomona in 1966, where I met my wife, Sherry, who was a cashier for Mr. Walcott, the manager. Since I was hanging around the theatre so much, Mr. Walcott put me to work as the marquee boy to replace Rusty, who went to Vietnam. Mr. Walcott had a prosthetic leg and would have to carry the film upstairs one reel at a time. He was an old time performer who would entertain the staff during slow times by actually hypnotizing some of the employees. When Mr. Walcott became ill, he was replaced by Charles McCann, who managed for a few years longer. Elderly Mr. McCann would bring his equally elderly wife to work with him, and she would sew the torn masking and drapes in the building. He was dismayed that the company (UA) did not show enough appreciation for his wife’s efforts. We fondly remember some of the employees from those times — Mr. and Mrs. Deem, Carol Deem, and Linda Marshall. The projectors were carbon arc and there were a series of ancient dressing rooms under the stage which were definitely haunted. I’m 65 now and my wife and I are still, happily, in the theatre business.
I see I’m late to the party here, but with all due respect to ken mc — in 1974, all suits were bad and all moustaches were cheesy. When I opened the Mall Cinemas in 1974, it was festive and classy. The shoebox auditoriums were acceptable at the time, so it’s easy to crticize them now. (Cinerama Dome on Sunset was one of the few “stadium” theatres around then). I had my share of notable employees in Westminster – a great assistant, Robert J., another excellent usher who is now a successful DM for a large circuit (Hey, Shaun), and on the other side of the coin, a doorman who was sentenced on a murder conviction (about 1978). If any former employees want to say hi, my email is
I just discovered this site. Wow. I was the opening manager in 1970. Some of my opening staff (first names) Jeff, Luther, Debbie, Karen, her brother Bob, Mary W., Mary H., Todd, Bob T.(serious condolences – Bob was a great employee). We had an ongoing battle with the Karmelcorn shop next door because he (Mr. TopHat) would teach our customers how to smuggle his karmelcorn into the theatre. It doesn’t seem too important now though. Yes, Al Tice was the projectionist who would bring his border collie to work with him. He commuted from Hesperia. Former employees – send me a hello – what are you doing now?