Sherman Torgan was one of the good guys. I never met him, didn't even know what he looked like and, frankly, couldn't even tell you his name until today, but I did know and patronize the theater he owned in Los Angeles. The New Beverly Cinema was an old, funky oasis of cinema cool. I grew up in Los Angeles and have pleasant memories of attending double-bills there before I moved away, the most memorable being the night I talked my "never want to leave the house at night anymore" parents into seeing His Girl Friday and Ball of Fire with me. We had a blast.

When I moved back to LA temporarily a couple of years ago, I was surprised to see that the theater was still open. So much in the city had changed or disappeared and yet the New Beverly Cinema kept going -- still fully and proudly independent. Six bucks for two movies (it's $7.00 now), reasonable prices for concessions and a great time watching In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express. Torgan picked the movies -- from arthouse to classics to grindhouse -- and did nearly everything else at the theater for about 30 years until he unexpectedly suffered a heart attack while riding a bicycle and died on Wednesday.

Blake Ethridge of Cinema is Dope posted the news of Torgan's passing late Wednesday night, based on an e-mail he received from one of Torgan's friends. Another friend wrote to Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere and Tony Pierce at LAist confirmed it with one of the theater's projectionists today. Torgan's death was unexpected, so his family needs time to decide about the future of Los Angeles' last remaining full-time revival cinema. Fans and friends have been posting condolences at the theater's MySpace page. Our hearts go out to Sherman's wife, son Michael (who helped his father run the place for the past decade), family and friends.