Tom Northrup

I have many warm memories of Interstate Theatres, hanging around the Alabama Theatre in Houston (largest suburban) as a boyfriend of the cashier (whom I later married), got hired as Night Chief Usher, then Treasurer (Assistant Manager), the Assistant to the Director of Adv. and Publicity, Conrad Brady first, then Art Katzen. Al Lever, a second father to me, was the City Manager. He was a class act, high in the hierarchy of Houston in those days of Grand Openings, new forms of long-running movies, Around the World in 80 Days, Lili (at the River Oaks for months). I was a close confidant of Johnny Smith, the creator of the RO as an art theatre, artist in his own right, entrepreneur, renegade, professional bachelor, friend....trusted me as his relief manager when he vacationed in Palmdale, Cal. home, in the desert until he, with encouragement from Mr. Hob, got the locals to irrigate and grow fruit. I left them to study architecture full time when I received an offer to go to work as a studio press agent in the late 50's. I've often wondered, "What if?" I would have replaced a great guy named Kevin Ginther, who was promoted, and I understand made a career in Hollywood. Interstate was the best education a young man could have. It taught me how to deal with people fairly and how to present my cause. "Papa Al (Lever), a Jew taught this Christian boy what my grandmother had tried...tolerance, love, appreciation of the sacrifices people have made for freedom to believe in God, themselves, and their fellow men. Also, a hell of an appreciation for the film industry. For the last forty years I have been a land planner of note here in Houston, first consulting job - The Astrodome, 42 year veteran volunteer with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a participant in the most popular series our Channel 8 has ever produced, "Houston Now and Then", where there was a fairly lengthy segment about movies in Houston. Its about time the rich, rich old girl Johnny Smith made famous gets it due credit.


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