The Tivoli Theatre experience will never be the same again.
The Loop's favorite ticket taker, John Thompson, died of a heart attack at the age of 74 Wednesday, devastating the film buffs and neighborhood regulars who came to know him as the kindest man in St. Louis.
"He warmed the hearts of tens of thousands of people who came to the Tivoli Theatre and to the Loop," says Joe Edwards, the owner of some of the Loop's signature spots, including Blueberry Hill and the Moonrise Hotel. "Everybody knew him. In addition to greeting people, he made their lives brighter."
Thompson perfected the art of going the extra mile during his 35 years at the Tivoli. He was famous for feeding patrons' meters, walking them to their cars and passing out umbrellas when it rained.
"He was just always thinking about everybody else, always doing things for everyone," says Laura Resnick, the theater manager, who knew Thompson for 35 years. "That's what he aspired to be, a good person. And boy, did he do it."
Thompson landed the greeter gig by bugging Resnick's brother, Alan, who was then the manager, for a job every time he came to the movies -- which was often. Alan brushed him off, his sister says, by telling him he only hired cute young girls.
"John [Thompson] finally talked him into it, and he worked here ever since," Resnick remembers.
The theater posted a small remembrance -- a poster and a candy rose -- in the ticket booth in Thompson's honor. Resnick says she's waiting for approval from the family to put something about his death on the marquee he loved so much.
In his final years, Thompson's life took a happy turn when he met his wife, Fran, five years ago. She was a film buff herself, "so of course John [Thompson] had a crush on her," says Resnick.
Continue reading for more about Thompson's life-changing love.
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