Commonwealth Journal

News Live

February 4, 2014

Local movie legend Norma Leveridge’s death marks end of a cinematic era

Somerset —

“It would never seem the same to go to the movies without Norma being there.”
Sue Stogsdill worked for Norma Leveridge at Showplace Cinema, once the hub of weekend activity in Pulaski County. Her words recall what a fixture Leveridge was there — and before Showplace was a twinkle in a mall developer’s eye, at the grand old movie houses downtown as well.
Leveridge passed away Tuesday at the Cumberland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 83 years of age. Only a couple of days earlier, she had celebrated her latest birthday.
Her death comes oddly soon after Showplace Cinema closed its doors in the Somerset Mall for the final time in late December. Leveridge served as manager of the theater, which opened in 1981, essentially throughout the run of its existence. Only in the last few years did she finally step away, following the purchase of the mall theater by Somerset Cinemas 8.
Long before Showplace, however, Leveridge was an essential part of the average Pulaskian’s moviegoing experience. In 1952, she started her long run at the Virginia Cinema on East Mt. Vernon Street in downtown Somerset and managed it as a do-everything dynamo — ordering movies, selling tickets, serving popcorn.
“When I was young, in my early teens, I’d come from Whitley City (to Somerset for the movies) and she’d be right in there,” said Leveridge’s cousin Don Stricklin. “She was there all the time.”
“She’d tell me who she hired in to run the projectors; it seemed like half of Somerset worked for her at one time,” said Stogsdill. “She’d come in so sick sometimes I’d be concerned for her, in the last three or four years before she had to retire. She got to where she was unable to stand on her feet and tear the tickets. But she made it in and ordered the movies. She never missed a day.”

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