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Hollywood Premier Across the Street From My Home

My most bizarre December memory

By Rebecca MortonPublished 5 months ago 3 min read
Hollywood Premier Across the Street From My Home
Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash

This is probably one of the least believable things that ever happened to me, but it is totally, all true. It was December 1993, and I was walking home from my job as a preschool teacher in a Philadelphia suburb.

Actually, I was walking home from the train station, because I lived right in Center City, not far from City Hall, in a small apartment over a bookstore on Chestnut Street. I had only lived there for two months.

It wasn’t even 7 pm, but it was dark, it being December. As I rounded the corner to walk down the block toward my apartment, two beams of light pierced the darkness, moving back and forth. Were they searchlights?

“Oh, no!” I thought. Had my block become a crime scene? Would I be able to get into my building? It was kind of a rough neighborhood then, where I had to step over people sleeping in my apartment vestibule occasionally.

When I turned another corner to go to my building, I was hit with an incredible sight. The sidewalk in front of my building was crowded with people! What kind of crime had happened?

But as I walked closer, I saw joy on people’s faces. They were mostly women, and they were speaking loudly about the old movie theater across the street. I forget the name of the cinema, but I remember it was a bit rough around the edges, and never a place I went into, despite it being the closest one to where I lived.

I thought I heard the words, “movie premiere”. What???

Before I could ask anyone what was going on, a huge limousine pulled up right in front of the theater, right across the street from US! As the car door opened, I heard voices of hundreds of women scream….


Denzel Washington and his wife (Pauletta Washington, I learned later), got out of the car and turned to wave to our crowd! There they were, dressed in beautiful, formal attire! THEY WERE RIGHT THERE!

The sign above the theater doors said, “Philadelphia”. OH! It was that movie I had heard about!

It was said to be a sad, dramatic new controversial movie about a man, played by Tom Hanks, who was fired from his law firm because he had AIDS. Denzel Washington played the Hanks character’s attorney. Here is a clip of the first few minutes of the film. It shows a lot of different places in what used to be my hometown:

Wait, did that mean Tom Hanks and his wife, who I knew was Rita Wilson, would be getting out of the next car? I heard the name Tom Hanks ripple through our crowd. Another limo pulled up in front of us.

Aw, it was just director Jonathan Demme. I don’t remember if he had a plus one with him.

Then, finally, another limo parked in front of us, and out stepped TOM HANKS AND RITA WILSON! They smiled and waved to us, walked into the theater, and the event was over.

No more cars came. The crowd began to disperse. I suddenly worried that my building would be crawling with security. Would I have to show my ID to get in? I still had only my old New Jersey Driver’s license.

Lucky for me, but probably not a great thing for the movie stars, there appeared to be absolutely no security in my building! I climbed the stairs to my little one-bedroom apartment and was never happier that my window was front-facing, and I could see the movie theater clearly! That means I could see everyone leave the movie in about two hours!

In the meantime, I phoned my family and friends to tell them what was happening across the street from me. When I finally heard commotion out my window, I rushed to see all the same glittering famous people hurry back into their limos to the sound of cheering crowds.

What the heck had just happened?

I have looked all over the Internet, but have not found any evidence of this Philadelphia premiere of Philadelphia! There are reported December 1993 premieres in Los Angeles and New York City, but that is it.

I will keep looking. I know it wasn’t a dream. If it had been one of my dreams, I would have been stopped by police from getting into my apartment.


This is a portion of a story originally published on


About the Creator

Rebecca Morton

My childhood was surrounded by theatre people. My adulthood has been surrounded by children! You can also find me on Medium here:, and now I have a Substack newsletter at

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