"Hello! My name is Frank, and I want to welcome you to ArcLight."
It's a phrase Frank Lozano will utter at least a dozen times throughout his shift as a greeter at ArcLight Pasadena, yet his delivery never wavers. The genuine enthusiasm apparent in his pitch remains steady, whether it's the first screening of the day or the last.
"People have asked me, 'Have you ever been an actor?'" Lozano said with a laugh. "But, I'm not an actor." (However, in case you were wondering, his favorite actors are Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp).
This verve, coupled with a gentle, grandfatherly demeanor, has garnered the 73-year-old a kind of cultish popularity amongst Pasadena movie-goers.
The theater is even creating a drink named after Lozano to sell in the lobby bar. ("It should be called the 'MargarGreeter'" and "have a lot of pepper in it," Lozano joked. It will be non-alcoholic because he doesn't drink.)
Still, while it seems everyone knows of Lozano, he remains a kind of enigma. Most people simply refer to him as "the greeter guy at ArcLight," a fact Lozano capitalizes upon with his Twitter handle, @greeterguy.
You could say Lozano's evolution into "the greeter guy" began in 1939, the year of his birth and the year often referred to as "Hollywood's Greatest." Technicolor debuted, as did several iconic films, most notably "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind."
The seventh of 11 children, Lozano was born severely premature and has suffered several lasting health problems, including poor eyesight, as a result. Nevertheless, he pushed forward, eventually leaving his boyhood home in Fresno, Calif. to take a job in the San Gabriel Valley as a printing press operator.
It was 1965, and the dust from the Watts Riot had only just begun to settle when Lozano began working at Hofferman Electronics in El Monte.
Soon after, Lozano left Hofferman for a larger print shop that had more opportunities for growth. Lozano said he still remembers the interview for that job, and his answer when owner Jack Strater asked where he saw himself in five years.
"I said, 'In five years, I want to be sitting at your desk,'" Lozano recalled.
And, five years later, he was.
Strater retired and sold the store to Lozano, but the business failed, and in 1972, Lozano closed up shop for good.
Lozano didn't disclose the name of his old shop because losing the business "was a sad time," and offered no explanation about the matter except to say, "I found out I was better at managing my employers' money than my own."
But, Lozano got back on track and found his way to managing Harmon Press in Hollywood, when he had the accident that would alter the course of his life.
Fractured Foot Brings Serious Health Issues to Light
One day, Lozano fell off of a step-ladder, barefooted, at his home. However, he still managed to make it into work.
"I'm kind of hobbling around and they're asking me why I don't see a doctor. I said, 'Why am I going to see a doctor? He's just going to tell me I fractured my foot.'"
But at the urging of his boss and coworkers, Lozano eventually did get to a doctor, who performed a complete physical exam, in addition to setting the fractured foot.
A couple of days later, Lozano got a phone call from the doctor's office, summoning him to "come in right away."
Lozano's blood-work showed he had a cholesterol level of more than 600 (between 180-200 is considered normal). A subsequent stress test revealed Lozano had several blocked arteries, and he was taken into surgery almost immediately.
"My right aorta was 98 percent blocked," Lozano said.
Despite three more heart surgeries, Lozano's health worsened. He soon had no choice but to retire from the physically-demanding job of running a print shop to focus on his health.
After three years in retirement, Lozano grew bored, and got a job as a box office attendant at the now-defunct Regency theater in Temple City. When that theater closed, he got a job at a theater in Azusa, which also shut down. He eventually landed at Pacific Theaters, now ArcLight, in Pasadena.
From Printing Press Owner to Box Office King
When ArcLight took over Pacific Theaters, because of his health and advanced age "No one quite knew what to do with me," Lozano said. "I told them, 'you're never going to find someone like me again.'"
They initially put him in the box office, where he became known as the "Box Office King" because he sold more tickets than any other attendant. But Lozano really found his niche as a greeter, and put in a request with his manager to do the job full-time, as opposed to moving around to different stations within the theater.
"I asked him, 'If I can do the job, will you keep me around until I'm 100 years old and give me a life-long pass to the movies?" Lozano said.
The manager acquiesced, audiences responded and Lozano's popularity grew. And his appeal is cross-generational.
The highest compliment Lozano says he ever received came from a 10-year-old boy. After Lozano gave his usual spiel, he overheard the boy whispering, "That is the coolest guy ever. He is so cool."
Indeed, Lozano has rolled with a lot of punches in his life, but says he is grateful for the love of his ArcLight "guests."
"You know, I kind of had two lives: one before the theater, and one after the theater. What I really like was the one after the theater," he said.