Putting women in the picture at cinema

editorial image

WITH a name like Doris Hart the new manager of the town’s Odeon Cinema was a perfect fit for the job.

But her rise to the top in the world of the 1970s was far from simple.

The Mail’s profile noted: “Mrs Hart has never found it difficult to combine the jobs of being a cinema manager with providing home for five people.”

But Doris then said: “One time I arrived home at 11pm and had to start doing the washing.

“I was still at it at two in the morning.”

She also said that being a married woman made promotion difficult, as the Odeon at the time normally required staff to travel anywhere in Britain.

“In the end I was the first person to gain promotion with partial mobility,” said Doris, who lived in Darlington, where her husband David was a credit controller.

“This meant I was prepared to travel but only in the North-East.”

Doris said that 11 years previously she had been a “bored housewife” when she saw a cashier’s job at Darlington’s Odeon Cinema.

“Housework was driving me up the wall,” said Doris.

“I hated dusting and cleaning, there was nothing to them.”

From cashier she rose to assistant manager at Darlington, then deputy manager at Sunderland, before landing the coveted manager’s position at Hartlepool.

But although she was a pioneer for her sex, Doris wasn’t the first in her family to make manager, as her son Michael was already in charge at a Glasgow Odeon at the age of 26.

“I always knew he would become a manager before me,” she said.

“He is single and prepared to travel anywhere.”

When she was growing up Doris loved Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire and cowboy films with Roy Rogers but she said: “The James Bond films are every bit as good as the ones in the old days.”

Doris told the Mail there was a lesson in her story for others: “There must be a lot of women who automatically get married and commit themselves to a home and do not realise the potential they have for something else outside.”

Sadly the Hartlepool Odeon was nearing the end of its days as a cinema, closing a little over two years later, on October 24, 1981.

Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.