Centenary cinema celebration

History in film: North Haven’s Michael Gleeson will be guest speaker at Hoyts Cinema’s 100th birthday this Friday.THE grand days of theatre will be celebrated in Sydney on Friday with a North Haven man listed as guest speaker.
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Hoyts Cinemas is celebrating their 100th birthday with a reunion where local film industry veteran Michael Gleeson will speak on the company’s history.

In cinema hey-days people would crowd outside theatres to see the latest films, news, cartoons.

“It was a weekly social event that everyone went to for entertainment,” Mr Gleeson said.

“It was threepence to get into the theatre and families never missed the Saturday Matinees.”

Mr Gleeson said he was bitten by the film bug as a schoolboy in Sydney. The Westmead Boys Home had its own cinema and there were movies every Friday night.

“I guess the smell of the popcorn got to me,” Mr Gleesson said.

In school he was interested in getting behind the scenes and helped out in the school projection room.

In 1958 he started working in Hoyts theatres, beginning as a spool boy and working his way up to be a projectionist. He met his first wife in the business, she was an usherette, and they opened their own cinema in Roseville in 1972.

“I was actually opening the theatre the day my daughter was born,” Mr Gleeson recalled.

“But two years later I stopped because it wasn’t good for family life. I was working getting up at about eight in the morning and coming home at 11.30pm, seven days a week.”

The family left Roseville in 1975 to relocate to the Camden Haven. Mr Gleeson ran the Plaza Theatre for a few years before moving on to other jobs.

He still keeps up-to-date with technology in theatres and home entertainment, and keeps in touch with colleagues from his Sydney days.

Mr Gleeson said he wasn’t nervous about speaking on his research into the Hoyts history before the 100th birthday crowd, just looking forward to catching up with old friends.

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