Proud to Be an Usherette

In this second post about my MIL, Diana of the Shulman clan (well, the family seems about as big as a clan), I want to address a job she had as a young woman while she still lived in Toronto.

First, let me mention that until she was an adult and chose the name Diana, she was not called Dinah Leah by her siblings, but Della. I don’t know what her parents called her, but in general to her family she was Della.

Della/Diana was an usherette during the early 1940s. This was a very desirable job for someone young. Movie theatres in those days were often beautiful venues and to make the entire experience pleasurable to patrons, usherettes wore smart uniforms and checked tickets, assisted people to seats, distributed refreshments, and were generally helpful go-tos for movie-goers.

One of the theatres Diana worked at was Loew’s, which was one of the big movie theatre chains. The link shows a photo of the theatre we believe she worked at.

Photos of Toronto’s Loew’s Downtown Theatre (now the Elgin)

It is possible that Diana is wearing the Loew’s uniform in this portrait. However, if we knew the identity of the man in the newspaper or magazine she is holding, it might help.

A nighttime shot of Loew’s is in a blog post about the old movie theatres of Toronto. Fascinating article!

Diana also worked for Famous Players in Toronto. In the following photograph it is easy to see that she was Head Usherette.

Seeing these photos does make me wish we still had businesses that are based on humans working face to face with other humans. Instead, our current culture has this push to automate everything imaginable.


22 thoughts on “Proud to Be an Usherette

  1. Pingback: At Entering the Pale This Week | The Family Kalamazoo

    • It sure does. Uniforms were good, though, for people who didn’t have many clothes or whose clothes didn’t loo that great for work. Uniforms are a great equalizer, as long as you can afford the uniform if you are expected to pay for it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, wonderful, wonderful – the usherette days! One of my favorite memories as a little girl was when my daddy and mama would take me to the movies with them at one of the grandest of the grand theaters in Houston. The whole experience was like a dream for me, and one day I remember we watched two movies at different theaters.Walking up those steps in the theater signaled we had arrived at something quite splendid.
    So to be an usherette in that making dreams reality for so many people must have been awesome. Wonderful pictures, Luanne, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know if it is a usherette uniform but it seems like it sure could be. I tried googling and saw a few options …either way she wore this uniform with a beautiful smile. Interesting that she would be holding some type of paper with pic or picture in this photo. hmmmmm Fun post Luanne!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since it looks like a professional portrait done by her workplace I am thinking it has something to do with ownership there. I thought maybe Loew’s because the group photo is for sure Famous Players, and those are the 2 we know she worked for. However, she might have worked for another. She’s definitely young in the single portrait so it’s not from one of her NYC jobs.


  4. I remember those days. What class! It was a big deal to go to a movie, even in the small town where I grew up. But in the city — wow! Everyone dressed up (no torn jeans and t-shirts), and the theatre interior was a sight to behold — gilded decorations, elaborate ceilings, comfy seats, balconies (yes, balconies!). Back then, a movie was NOT about how many bodies you can cram into a small space and how much money can be made, it was about providing an experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also remember going to the movies with my parents – maybe only Mum. We went to see Fantasia and I cried through the whole thing! Mum told me later she was about to stuff me under the seat. Even Laurel an Hardy movies frightened me. Have NO idea why.

    Later, as a teen, my beau would take me to one of the nice theaters in downtown Baltimore, and I really did enjoy myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh. I think some children are more easily frightened, and it might be that your nervous system needed a little more “growing” before you could tolerate more stimulation?
      You had a nice beau!


  6. While I don’t remember them having dressed so elaborately in the UK, I remember usherettes in cinemas in England from years gone by, with their dimmed torch (flashlight) beams directed downward and the sale of icecream and popcorn. How nice to have someone in the family who’d been an usherette. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I had a look online after reading your post yesterday (I’m delayed with everything at the moment!) – some really fun stuff. Oh and yeah, the fabric of the uniforms must’ve been heavy. Can you imagine it in hot weather?


  7. Pingback: Art for the Movie Theatres: early 1940s | Entering the Pale

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