Grand Opening of the National Theatre
I was part of the first crew hired, along with my roommate, Anna Morales. I first worked as an usher and at the candy counter for minimum wage, which I believe at the time was about $1.65 an hour. Later, I was promoted to cashier and made 10 cents an hour more! It was the middle of my junior year at UCLA, and I worked part time at this movie theatre until I graduated in summer, 1971. You cannot tell from this B/W photo that uniforms for the women were actually orange with a yellow band around the hip. We also had to wear nylon stockings and heels. We had to address each other as “Mr.” and “Miss” - and this is what was on our name tags. Ticket prices were $3.00 for an evening performance, $2.50 for a matinee. This was a bit higher than most movie theatres at the time, and sometimes patrons would complain! Many celebrities came into this theatre, and I would always get so nervous having to wait on them. Charlton Heston, James Garner, Groucho Marx, Carol Channing, Natalie Wood, Mickey Rooney, were a few of the ones I remember. All the ushers and cashiers were college students and we had a lot of fun. We would eat together before our shift or on a lunch break across the street at “Tiny Naylor’s. Sometimes on warm summer evenings, we would all go down to Santa Monica after the late shift for a midnight beach party. However, there was a policy about not dating fellow employees. This was where I met Mark in the summer of 1970, and when the manager found out we were dating he fired him, but I got to stay!!
This was one of the last single screen theatres built in the country. The auditorium could seat over 1100 people, and it was state of the art for it’s time. Many famous movies premiered here, and it was a landmark building in West LA for 38 years. Sadly, the Mann National Theatre closed in 2007 and was demolished in 2008.