Regency I

1320 Van Ness Avenue,
San Francisco, CA 94109

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HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 9, 2018 at 5:29 am

Wheelbarrowjohnny, I was only in this movie theater once, since I live in Philly, but I really enjoyed reading your post! And, as an official volunteer for this website, I read a lot of comments that don’t really say anything about the theater or its history, but yours really does give us so many interesting tidbits, so thanks!

Wheelbarrowjohnny
Wheelbarrowjohnny on January 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm

While in High School, my buddy Pete Smith and I worked at the Regency I in 1975, 1976 for the Stimmel’s; Pearl and Shirly. Pearl was a wonderful lady who managed with an iron-fist. She taught me many things that I used as a business owner, later in life (one being, when it’s slow, …CLEAN!) She was a tiny lady, but like a chihuahua, her bark was worse than her bite. With sell-out crowds for months on end, you learned to respect the fact that she always had control. She taught me how to deal with large crowds. Pearl managed M-S and her daughter, Shirley was the Sunday manager. It was a treat to work sundays with Shirley and you had to work your way to her good graces in order to be on her crew. This included the projectionists, Rebel (Reb) and I would have long conversations waiting for the projector change. Sylvester Stallone did not visit the theater, Pearl traveled to LA and met him in Hollywood at a private showing for theater-owners. She came back smitten and excited about the movie. Since it was a first-run theater, at the time we had just finished a 6-month run of One Flew Over the Cucoo’s Nest. I remember going to Winterland on a friday night to see ELO, on Saturday I was working the matinee and 3 members of the band came to see the Cucoo’s Nest. I recognized them in line and said “I had a great time at your concert last night, and, hey, I can get you in for free”. (with Pearl’s blessing) So, on their way out they stopped and said thanks and got me on the list for backstage for the Saturday Night concert. Pearl was not usually star-struck, but that changed when Katherine Hepburn also came to see a matinee of Rocky in 1976. (She was appearing as Mrs. Basil in the touring company of “A Matter of Gravity). One evening, after we had just closed the Box-office, Pearl had already gone to the office and Francis Ford Coppola came with an entourage of a half a dozen people. I ran to the office and told Mrs. Stimmel that Francis Ford Coppola was outside and he wanted to see the movie, so she re-opened the box office, charged them normal price. He was just back from the Phillippines filming "Apocalypse Now” and his Sister played Rocky’s love interest, Adrian. Knowing this tid-bit, as I was tearing his ticket, I made the comment to Mr. Coppola “Oh, you came to see your sister Talia in the movie!” (pronouncing it Till-ia). He looked at me and said, “It’s TAL-ia”, took his ticket and walked in. They bought Rocky t-shirts, popcorn and sodas for everybody in the group. Once, the film distributor inadvertently sent “Little Big Man” to the Regency. So Pearl decided to have an after-hours showing for staff and friends. We all watched from the balcony, just outside the projection booth and took turns switching over reels. The greatest perk of working there was that the Stimmels would call any theater in SF to get you in for free. (Pearl seemed to know ALL the managers city-wide, Shirley even knew the Mitchell Bros. but I was too young for the O'Farrell :)

stevenj
stevenj on December 8, 2017 at 8:45 am

I can’t remember the color of the seats or walls inside the auditorium but yes, there was a narrow balcony that wrapped around the sides and rear of it. The lobby and waiting area on the Van Ness Ave side as I recall was quite ornate with green and purple paisley wallpaper and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I saw quite a few films at this theatre and loved going to the bargain matinees in the 70’s. Don’t remember much of a rake to the floor in the auditorium and the acoustics were not very good but this was a really popular theatre that really pulled the crowds in. The last film I saw here was Evita in the mid 90’s.

Cinerama
Cinerama on December 7, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I think it was this theatre that I saw Good Morning Vietnam. The seats and walls were all in green. Plus it had a balcony that wrapped around to the side walls. Nobody was sitting on the side balcony as it was not very deep and maybe didn’t have any seats. Was it this theatre?

brettabaer
brettabaer on December 17, 2016 at 7:17 am

My grandfatherJoe Blumenfeld created Regency I (& II) and I worked there in 1979 – 1982. He owned many theaters. When I was young Pearl’s tough facade scared me. When I grew up I understood Pearl. She had the highest standards of any manager we ever had. And she took no sh&t from no one. Once she learned that I respected her rules and her operation – she became like a 2nd mother to me. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. She was a special lady and holds a special place in my ❤. Those that say negative things about her unfortunately did not know her – or – deserved what she did to them (and yes – she would throw you out if you pressed your luck). After my grandfather passed in 1982 my uncles carried on the operation until its ultimate demise. Pearl was always welcome. The Regency theaters were classic theaters that movie goers loved for many years. OJ Simpson and Al Michaels once came to watch Nick Nolte and Mac Davis in North Dallas Forty and I got autographs. Sylvester Stallone came to the grand opening of Rocky I and Pearl took great care of him. Despite their flaws, these theaters were a part of the rich and diverse culture that made San Francisco great in that era – now gone.

ColinG
ColinG on August 15, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Mrs. Stimmel was always very kind and gracious to me when I went to see a movie at the Regency. (I was an employee of another chain) My feeling was that she was a person who respected those that demonstrated respect for her. I am sorry to hear of her passing.

Swirlyewok
Swirlyewok on September 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm

4 every1 on here 2 know, Mrs. Stimmel was my grandmother. She passed away this yr on January 25, 2013. She lived a great life, I loved all my memories @ that theater when she was manager. All the workers were always nice. I was very sad when she retired, but more sad when it closed down. & she definitely had an attitude. Lol. RIP GRANDMA. U’ll be missed but never 4gottin. :) ~Ur loving granddaughter Shirley Stimmel~

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on September 21, 2011 at 10:41 am

It’s being used for live shows as well as banquets.

ajtarantex
ajtarantex on September 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

Does Any one know what" in the building NOW?

Abodigital
Abodigital on June 29, 2008 at 8:56 am

I worked at the Regency 1 in summer ‘97 and Mrs Stimmel was still working there, at least part time during the day. I worked nights so didn’t actually work with her but she was always nice to me whenever we spoke and was a real character. I returned while on vacation in summer '98 and she was still there, recognised me and let me in for free to see a movie (The Truman Show). I have very fond memories of the theatre, sad to see it closed. Con Air, Face Off and GI Jane were running the summer I worked there. Winona Ryder came in one night with friends to see GI Jane!

Aerick
Aerick on March 23, 2008 at 3:34 am

It was a beautiful theatre interior wise.. It was green and white as I remember. The walls were green with White moldings, and there were several chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in the main auditorium.

My first movie here was E.T. when I first moved to San Francisco in 1982. I so remember lining up on Van Ness and around the corner as the description above says. I miss that theatre.

George75
George75 on February 16, 2007 at 8:14 am

Pearl Stimmel (1922-2006) was the “manager with an attitude” at the Regency 1. I believe she retired in 1993. Her assistant Anita went home to North Dakota. I have no idea what became of Ana.

George75
George75 on July 12, 2006 at 3:33 pm

I worked at the Regency 1 in the summer of 1991. Mrs. S., the old woman who managed the place from its opening, was the meanest human being I had ever met. She mocked and degraded her staff almost daily; was she the boss till the end? She must’ve been 75 by 1998! Would love to know what became of her as well as Anita and Ana (her two friendly assistants when I worked there; Mrs. S.’s daughter was not always her assistant).

BLFT
BLFT on August 3, 2005 at 4:43 pm

Saw many great movies at the Regency, including “Fantasia” and “E.T.”. Was a great place to see movies, but sadly run out of business by the more modern Galaxy Theater and the AMC 1000 up the street.

BabyJaneHudson
BabyJaneHudson on November 14, 2004 at 12:07 pm

Saw many movies there as Ilived a couple of blocks away on Octavia. Never cared much for that theater as the seats were uncomfortable and you had to look over people’s heads to see the screen.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 7, 2004 at 5:43 pm

I saw “Top Gun” here in 1986, the only time I was ever there, and remember the Regency I as an very attractive place, despite the descriptive comments above.

gsmurph
gsmurph on June 9, 2004 at 2:20 am

The Scottish Rite Temple and the Avalon Ballroom, formerly Regency II), were subsequently renamed the Regency Center.