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Promotion to Editor of Timely Comics at the age of 17


Meeting Mrs Roosevelt
Stan Lee Writer
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After Jack May when I was delivering lunches, I got a job as an usher at the Paramount Theater. No, I'm sorry, at the Rivoli Theater in New York. And in those days, the Rivoli was a big, high-class movie house. People wore shirts and ties just to... and suits... just to go and see the movie. Well again, in those days being an usher at a big Broadway theater was almost like being a West Pointer. You were hired for your height. I was six feet so that got me in, and I was fairly slim. I was always skinny. But every morning they would inspect you, and your uniform, and it was a real big deal. And there was one thing… there were six aisles I think, so there were six ushers. When someone came in and… you were supposed to try to get them to come down your aisle. So there was a gesture you had to use. It took me a few… little while to learn it. You had to go like this, ‘This way please’. And it always had to be like that. You went like that to catch their attention, then you went, ‘This way please’. Well, the first week I kept hitting myself in the chin, because it's not easy to do. This way, this way. And after a while I learned how to do it so my hand just missed my chin. I was one of the best. This way… now I just did it again. This way please move that they had. Anyway, one day Mrs Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the wife of the President, was supposed to come to the theater, and everybody was so excited. We learned in advance she was coming. The Secret Service came and checked everything out, and all of us were standing in our aisles wondering who's aisle she'd come down. Came down my aisle. And I wanted to make an impression, and I didn't know what to say. I said, ‘This way please Madam President’. And then I realized I shouldn't have said Madam President… but I didn't… she didn't care. So I started leading her down the aisle, and I'm holding the flashlight, and I had my shoulders back and my head high. I figured I looked just like Errol Flynn, and I'm walking down the aisle… and I tripped over somebody's foot that was sticking out in the aisle, because my head was so high I wasn't looking down. Tripped and fell right on my face. The next thing I knew, Mrs Roosevelt had me by the shoulders and was trying to lift me up. ‘Are you all right, son?’. Oh, I was so embarrassed. But that was my first touch with greatness, and when I encountered somebody important.

The creative genius of American writer, Stan Lee (1922-2018) brought us 'Spider Man', 'X-Men' and 'The Hulk'. They climbed tall buildings and fought the bad guys, but had normal worries too, about love, acceptance and family. Readers loved them and Marvel Comics, with Lee at the helm, went on to become hugely successful. In 2010 the Stan Lee Foundation was founded to focus on literacy, education and the arts. On January 4, 2011 Lee received the 2428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Listeners: Leo Bear

Leo Bear is a Hollywood-based features writer. Her background is in news and features writing. Leo spent five years on the entertainment newsdesk at BBC Worldwide before going freelance and moving out to Los Angeles. She specialises in writing lifestyle features, celebrity interviews, health stories and travel features for publications including Eve Magazine, OK! Magazine, Total Film, TV Hits and Conde Nast Gourmet Travel Guide.

Tags: Rivoli theater, Mrs Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Duration: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008