It started on a dare from Wanda Gray, a movie extra herself.
When this start of a career in Leased Retail was jeopardized with the closing of the store, she was fortunate to segue into a job that had her incorporating many things. That time was pre Womens Lib, so that meant it was mandatory (pardon the pun) for a good trophy-type-secretary to look presentable. Good jewelry albeit costume along with nice attire helped, too. (That, Liz had thanks to leaving most of her pay at work, in Sterling’s “Better Dresses” and “Better Jewelry” Departments.) It probably didn’t hurt having a good wardrobe.
But it was really her love of movies, her photographer’s eye and her penchant for promotion… that got her the offer of a dream job. She became secretary to the then-manager of The Colony Theatre.
It was while working for Bill Lanese, that Liz loved learning more about movies and how they were marketed at the theater level, i.e., opening nights, benefits, galas, etc. (All those parties that she had to dress up for!) Then Lanese left Cleveland to relocate to the west coast, to work in the related field of movie promotion, this time on his own. It got back that Bill made it BIG… as a publicist… but how big? Bill Lanese Advertising became one of the biggest and most respected P.R. firms handling all the major studios. So well thought of was he, that they funded the startup of his firm. That’s the kind of impact some can only hope to make. Bill did it.
When the chain merged with RKO to become RKO/Stanley Warner Theatres, regional manager Joe Alexander along with district manager Dick Wright assigned Liz to manage both the Colony along with the Vogue (located further out Van Aken Boulevard in Shaker Heights). She was awarded the management of that theater when recommended by the Vogue’s longtime manager Frank Wheatley upon his retirement.
Mention is made of these fine folks because many old film-industry-friends have come out of the woodwork (read: retired with time on their hands) Without giving away timelines, here’s a hint how long ago this all was… and for those who know all these players… a sort of “don’t-remind-me-it-makes-me-feel-old department”, too: Morrie often used to remind Liz that she gave him his first fulltime job (in this country). Sylvia says how she schlepped then-infant son Jerry on her inventory rounds (for Berlo Vending). These two worker-bees went on to be the perfect choice of others, too. Morrie grew up to run numerous theatres while Sylvia stayed at one theatre, the Center-Mayfield, for decades.
And later in the ’80s … a couple of reunions
But, back to 1969 … and how the wedding went.
The reception held at the Colony was planned by Morrie and Sylvia as a much bigger surprise. Was it ever! Wedding patrons planned to come early so as to get a free movie out of it. Plus regular movie patrons ended up sharing in party trays (being circulated among the crowd just for them).
Those who came to that movie had themselves a interesting intermission. The movie? “Funny Girl”.
More will be written about movie trivia by Miz Liz…
To be continued … see you at the movies …