About Liz Chandler’s Love for The Arts (Movies, Theatre & Music, too)

Ann Blyth, LC, Janet Leigh

Here’s the backstory that explains why I was so excited to meet these movie legends.  Ann Blyth, Janet Leigh, Jane Powell, Jane Russell, Ann Jeffries, Rhonda Fleming, and Celeste Holm.

I was tickled to get to be a movie extra … more than a couple of times. Like when Hollywood came to film in Cleveland i.e.,  “Welcome to Collinwood” … Journalist Scott Lax’s novel-turned-into-movie titled … “The Year That Trembled”. 


Thanks … Bill Taggart … aka Projectionist-Extraordinaire … later … President of Local 27 IATSE (International Alliance of Stage Employees) https://www.facebook.com/IATSE27/
Thanks … Den … who said … “a fellow Union-Bro … never says ‘No'”.
(DC is a Lifetime Member of Local 4  Am Fed of Musicians / former Vice President & Emeritus Board of Director). 
They said “Yes” for what? Items needed for the WVIZ PBS Armchair Auction. We asked and Taggart-the-Teamster tapped Theatre Manager Sean Patterson. It pays to have people in high places.     


The love of movies started in my childhood. My family had a great love of movies. That must have helped them relish what little leisure time … they could squeeze out of their week. For them “the cheapest of all babysitters” … was the local neighborhood theatre. So we sat … watching movies … in the dark … all day long … and into the night, too.
In the language of the trade … “Movies on the grind”. To explain … that’s when they ran the feature film … “on the grind” … at 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10pm. My big brother Phil and I had to sit through them all.
While our parents worked … we were spending their dime and our time … at the movies. But when we thought of our parents working through sometimes … double shifts … doing double duty … we figured the least we could do was sit through … double features. It was our “job” … we had to do it … and … we LOVED it.

That love affair continued. Besides being able to spend time as a youth … in those old movie palaces, I got to work in those haunts … while still in high school.
After graduating from John Adams High School, I continued part-time. Then I did some modeling at some of Cleveland’s most popular department stores … Bonwit Teller, Halle Brothers and Sterling Lindner Davis. At SLD, from the rank of worker … I worked up … to manager. Some of those departments were under to lease to outside corporations. For example, I did duty in “Better Jewelry” and their “Portrait Studio” (where I was the photographer, too.)


My start of a career in Leased Retail was jeopardized with the closing of the store. I was fortunate to segue into a job that had me incorporating much of what I had learned previously. The time was pre Women’s Lib. What was that? For the Uniformed go to … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_liberation_movement

It also meant it was mandatory … (pardon the pun) … for a good trophy-type-secretary.  (read: one who looks presentable). Good jewelry … albeit … it was costume jewelry …  along with nice attire helped, too. I had that role covered … thanks to leaving most of my pay at work. Yep, Sterling’s “Better Dresses” and “Better Jewelry” Departments … got the better of me, so to speak. But, I was able to do OK when they had sales. I beat the bargain hunters … ’cause I got the lowdown … on … upcoming markdowns. Plus, it didn’t hurt that … the elevator operator ”held’ her lift … while I beat it up the stairs .. to where else? The 3rd floor … 

But, I believe it was a convergence of vibrations … that got me a dream job. After my interview I was told that It helped … my love for the Arts … movies … theatre … and music, too. Plus a photographer’s eye and a penchant for promotion. I became the secretary to the then-manager of The Colony Theatre. 

My Love for Learning Continues at The Movies 

It was while working for Bill Lanese, that I learned more about movies and how they were marketed at the theater level. Plus, I got to dress up for all those opening nights, benefits, galas, etc.  

Then Lanese left Cleveland to relocate to the west coast. He wanted to work in the related field of movie promotion, this time on his own. Word came back that he did do just that. Bill made it BIG … as a publicist. How big? Bill Lanese Advertising became one of the biggest and most respected P.R. firms. He was handling all the major studios. So well thought of was he, that the studios funded the startup of his firm. That’s the kind of impact … some can only hope to make. Bill did it. What a Light. 

At the time … a motion picture exhibitor company called Stanley Warner Theatres owned the following Cleveland movie houses. The  Allen downtown. In Shaker Heights … the Vogue on Van Blvd and The Colony in Cleveland. The latter was located on landmark Shaker Square. That was home turf for me … so to speak. Why? It’s where we went as youngsters to … watch the movies. Now I got to “work” the movies. All because Boss Bill recommended me … to be … promoted. I went from secretary to manager. It seemed I was destined to go back … “on the grind” … again. 

Then the chain merged with RKO to become RKO/Stanley Warner Theatres. The regional manager Joe Alexander along with district manager Dick Wright gave me a new assignment. I was to manage both the Colony … along with the Vogue. It was located not too far out from Shaker Square. Thank goodness. Why? When we had a hit movie playing at both theatres … we had to run one reel at a time … right off the first theatre’s projector … hit the road … to take it to the next theatre’s projector. To use old movie-theatre-exhibitor-speak… it was called .. “Bicycling”. But, I had a VW Beetle to do with.  
BTW … I was awarded that role … after being recommended by the Vogue’s longtime and well-respected manager … upon his retirement. Frank Wheatley deserves KUDOS … for also  … not being anti-Women’s Lib. What a Light.  

Told then by RKO’s Joe Alexander that I was one of their first female movie theatre managers (obstinately to get me to say yes, no doubt). I did take on the challenge of running both theaters, splitting my time between them. When they had the blockbusting premiere of “The Exorcist” at the Vogue, I knew I had to have more help. I already had it in the form of two now-famous or in-famous … (depending on whom one talks to) … movie maniacs, Morrie Zryl and Sylvia Sheer, both now of Blessed memory.

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 … it is a sort of “don’t-remind-me-it-makes-me-feel-old department”, too.

Morrie often used to remind me that I gave him his first full time job (in this country). Sylvia would share how she schlepped her … 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 …

Liz Chandler aka Archivist