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Not quite as famous as Leno or Fonzie, but I worked at the Charles with Mario Cantone, who was as high-energy then as he is now (and I mean that in a good way).
When I worked at the Charles in ‘78-'82, the general knowledge was that we were second-biggest – the Cinema 57 had a bigger screen and bigger seating capacity, but our sound system was better. (Feel free to call me a highly-biased source.) I’d forgotten about the Music Hall, that screen may well have been bigger.
Around 1980, this was definitely a dive – Sack owned it, but made no repairs – the men’s bathroom was just plain scary, and I recall attending an afternoon show, sitting in a seat close to the stage, looking up and seeing daylight through a sprinkling of holes in the roof.
Films there included such low-brow fare as “Comin' at Ya!” – 3D cinema at its worst. And yet, that’s where I saw “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 70mm.
Soon after moving to Boston in 1978, I saw “The Last Waltz” at the Sack Charles. About a month later, I got a job there as an usher, and stayed until 1982. I was there for “The Rose,” “Deer Hunter,” “Alien,” and of course “The Empire Strikes Back.”
But I also remember many of the movies that played downstairs. Two in particular: “Chariots of Fire” played for a while, and as I recall its run had just ended when it was nominated for several Oscars, so they brought it back for a very successful run. Also, “La Cage aux Folles” played there for over a year – there was a one-year party in the parking lot.
Anyone know the answer to the trivia question above? (Famous usher) I believe I know who they mean. A hint: He was one of many Emerson College students who worked at the Charles.