Editor’s note: A story about the beginnings of the Ice Follies and Ice Capades appears on page 10 of the February issue of SKATING magazine. Here are some more fun facts about those traveling ice shows and others.
Compiled by Ryan Stevens
- Touring professional ice revues were in their heyday. In 1940, Ice Capades had its world premiere in New Orleans and Arthur M. Wirtz joined forces to present the Hollywood Ice Revue and a series of successful shows at the Centre Theatre in New York. In 1945, Holiday On Ice got its start. Ice Follies, established by Eddie and Roy Shipstad and Oscar Johnson in the 1930s, was already hugely popular. These tours brought figure skating to American cities big and small, as well as exotic locations that had never seen skating before: Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and The Middle East. In Jordan, skaters performed in an ancient amphitheater where gladiators and lions once entertained the Romans.
- Sonja Henie’s 20th-Century Fox films were box-office hits around the world. As Hollywood bigwigs took notice of the Norwegian skating queen’s success on the silver screen, other film studios realized the big screen appeal of figure skating. British Olympian Belita Jepson-Turner’s skating performances in the 1946 Monogram Pictures film noir “Suspense” became cult classics. In Nigeria, the locals were convinced that the performer’s skates were a form of magic.
- Hotel and nightclub ice shows were also huge during wartime — the Hotel New Yorker and St. Regis Hotel in New York City, Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco, Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. If you didn’t mind having ice sprayed on you when a skater did a quick stop on a tiny tank, you could watch skaters do Salchows while you had a steak dinner and a glass of wine.
- One of the stars of the Hotel New Yorker’s show, Adele Inge of St. Louis was one of the first women to do a backflip on the ice.
- In the 1950s, Tom Arnold and Claude Langdon’s ice pantomimes in England drew in record audiences. These shows starred the likes of Belita, Gloria Nord and Jacqueline du Bief and featured comedians, adagio acts, live music and skaters lip-syncing to voice-over actors.
February 2021 Issue
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