Hillsdale Cinema

3011 S. El Camino Real,
San Mateo, CA 94403

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Hillsdale Cinema

The single screen Hillsdale Cinema was opened December 22, 1966 with Shirley MacLaine in “Gambit”. It was operated by General Cinema Corp. until it closed in 1997.

The lobby walls featured wall to wall glass panels with brown drapes that could be drawn to keep the sun out.

It was twinned as the Hillsdale Cinema I & II on November 19, 1971 and four-plexed on December 19, 1980. The walls of the auditorium were paneled with steel siding! By the time the theatre closed in 1998, it was very worn out. The cinema still had the original seats from the 1960’s. It remained empty for three years before being converted into a furniture store in 2000.

Contributed by mike croaro

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

DaveFogerson
DaveFogerson on September 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

A few versions of the “Feature Presentation” trailers that played at this and other GCC cinemas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F_tv1XNoCc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=m6uHhUKURYE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=dDK0U6OEc_w&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6oc1EYKRlg&feature=related

lagunagolf
lagunagolf on February 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Lynn Blackburn was manager of Hillsdale when it was a single (end of 60’s) and was mgr when it was twinned around 1972. He was transfered to LA in 72-73 when GCC bought Loew’s of So. California. PS—the theatre never had sticky floors during this period of time.

OCSlacker
OCSlacker on April 9, 2013 at 1:39 am

I was the closing manager for this theatre. Hillsdale was my first GM position. Before that, I was an assistant at GCC in Fremont. It was really run down by the time it closed but was a cash cow. Could never understand why they would close a theatre that made the company so much money.I can say that working here wasn’t my first choice.I tried to clean it up but it always seemed like it was never enough.Rats ran rampant throughout the building and I have a huge fear of those little critters. Almost quit my first day there because of that problem. The worst day was when someone drove by and shot out the huge windows in the lobby while the theatre was being closed for the night. The one plus I can give it was that the projectionist decorated the upstairs in all old movie posters and memorabilia. He worked there for over 20 years and saved everything, even an old spot light from the early 60’s that I was able to take home when the theartre closed it’s doors. Unfortunately, no one outside of the employees ever saw the projection booth. Also, loved watching movies from the small balcony off of the booth. Seemed like no one every knew I was I up there. Fremont on the other hand holds many dear memories for me. Cleanest theatre I have ever worked in and the hardest working employees I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Sometimes wish it was still around.

pbignardi
pbignardi on July 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I generally liked this theater, but it had the most unusual seats that were attached to some sort of sliding apparatus. It allowed you to move around in your seat a bit, but by the end of the movie your back was toast.

EmpressDR
EmpressDR on July 29, 2017 at 2:26 pm

the first film I saw there was Superman; later Reds (what a presentation! Lobby cards, intermission, everything!) saw Moonraker, and more — I think this was my usual theater for new movies. I think the last film I saw there before I moved to southern California was Terminator 2 (1991, but I left in 1992). The bathrooms were unusual — they had sinks right in with the toilets. I tried to wash my hair one time (difficult because the faucet was too close to the bottom of the sink)! Not sure why I did, maybe I was planning to run away from home, and wanted to know if this was a viable place to keep clean. One usher made mean remarks to me because I used to PAY to go to more than film per day (I STILL do that, because Tuesday is bargain day at AMC theaters). Back in the day, matinees were only about $1.50 or $2. On my last day at that theater before moving, I looked out the large lobby window for my dad’s car, and 3 stupid junior high boys blocked my view — then one of them told me my blouse was opened up and they could see… the others hit him for warning me. My blouse had loose buttons! But really, I was much older than they!

Zman
Zman on March 3, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Probably the most fun job I ever had. It was challenging as well. I worked for a a guy by the name of Harry Morgan. Nice man. The place was robbed one night and he was handcuffed to a toilet overnight. I am still in touch with former coworkers. One former coworker and friend was Bob Ost. A Bay Area fireman who was killed in the tragic Alaska Airlines Flight 261 debacle

Zman
Zman on March 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm

OCSlacker, was his name Bill?

rivest266
rivest266 on August 9, 2018 at 4:28 pm

This opened on December 22nd, 1966 and became a twin on November 19th, 1971. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 13, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Expanded to four screens on December 19th, 1980. No ad found.

DENNISMAHANEY1
DENNISMAHANEY1 on November 26, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Saddens me read some of the comment I never saw this unite but being first in NEW ENDLAND and then in CO. working for GCC four decade I heard noting buy good things and remember same about it early manager Lynn Blackburn if anyone reads this or work for GCC please come join us on FACEBOOK GENERAL CINEMA MEMORY

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