Saturday, September 29, 2007

1921: Symphony Director Skips Town With The Take

In 1921, Henry Green, musical director of an orchestra that became the genesis of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, skipped town, with the orchestra’s money, never to be heard from again.

1914: English Hussy Banned

The mayor of Vancouver banned performances by visiting English music-hall performer Marie Lloyd. At one point in her show she had lifted her floor-length gown up two inches to reveal a watch on her ankle. The shameless hussy!

Lloyd's songs, although perfectly harmless by modern standards, began to gain a reputation for being "racy" and filled with double entendre, ("She'd never had her ticket punched before" for example) largely thanks to the manner in which she sang them, adding winks and gestures, and creating a conspiratorial relationship with her audience. She became the target of Vigilance or "Watch" committees and others opposing music-hall licenses. She liked to claim that any immorality was in the minds of the complainants, and in front of these groups would sing her songs "straight" to show their supposed innocence.

1912: Comedy Legends Take on Vancouver

An English revue company called Karno’s Comedians performed in Vancouver. Included in the cast: Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.

1910: PNE Carpenter Becomes Horror Legend

A young English actor named William Pratt arrived in Vancouver, got work as a carpenter helping to build what became the PNE. Later he moved to Hollywood and changed his name to Boris Karloff.

1909: Boxer Would Later Hit the Big Screen

World heavyweight boxing champ Jack Johnson fought a six-round exhibition bout in Vancouver with boxer Victor McLaglen, who would later become an Oscar-winning movie actor. This was Jackson's first bout after winning the crown.

McLaglen starred in over 120 movies including the 1935 film The Informer which earned him an Academy award.

Spouse Margaret Pumphrey (1948 - 7 November 1959) (his death) Suzanne M. Brueggeman (1943 - 1948) (divorced) Enid Lamont (1919 - 1942) (her death)

Father of film director Andrew V. McLaglen.

Brother of actor Clifford McLaglen.

Brother of actor Cyril McLaglen.

Brother of actor Kenneth McLaglen

Brother of actor and sculptor Arthur McLaglen.

Father-in-law of actress Veda Ann Borg.

Daughter Sheila McLaglen born 1920.

Interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, USA.

Grandfather of Mary McLaglen.

Brother of actor Leopold McLaglen.

As a carnival boxer, if anyone could stay in the ring with him for one round and not be knocked down, they won a box of cigars.

He was quoted as saying:

"Acting never appealed to me, and I was dabbling in it solely as a means of making money. I rather felt that the grease paint business was somewhat beneath a man who was once a reasonably useful boxer."
Complete bio here...

1908: Jeff, the Boxing Kangaroo Hits Town

In 1908 “Jeff, the Boxing Kangaroo” amused big crowds in Vancouver at the Pantages Theatre.

ed. note: After a quick Internet search I found evidence that "Jeff" spent his retirement years on the Ruhe Animal Farm in New York State. I don't know for sure that these two "roos" are one and the same, but how many boxing kangaroos named Jeff could there be?

1902: Audiences Watch Mount Pelee Eruption

  • In 1902 movie goers in Vancouver were informed they could see THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT PELEE—BY ELECTRICITY at the Electric Theatre on Cordova Street. (This was a reconstruction, in a studio, of the actual 1902 Mount Pelee disaster. The film makers used a table-top model with flour bursting out of it.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

1900: Immigration Film Hampered By Snow (Not in the way one might expect)

In 1900 the Canadian Pacific Railway financed a film to promote Canadian immigration to the west. It took two years to film because the film-makers weren’t allowed to show snow.

2007: Smashing Pumpkins Fan Dies in PNE "Mosh Pit"

VANCOUVER - A 20-year-old Richmond man died after he was dragged unconscious from a mosh pit at the Smashing Pumpkins concert on September 25th at the Pacific National Exhibition Forum.
Vancouver police spokesman Const. Howard Chow said a group of young men dragged the victim out of the mosh pit toward security Monday night.
The victim, who was from Richmond, B.C., was taken to hospital, where he later died, police said Tuesday night.

Heritage Theatre Led a Varied Life

Frank William Hart opened what he called an opera house in 1887, but it hardly deserved the name. Hart's Opera House had started life as a roller skating rink in Port Moody but it was later dismantled and rebuilt on wooden piles on Carrall Street in 1886. It continued as a skating rink until December 1887, when it re-opened as a theatre and assembly hall. The interior of Hart's Opera House was lined with white cheesecloth, and there were enough benches to seat about 800 patrons. The Salvation Army held its meetings there, as did the Amateur Dramatic Club.
Hart's closed the year that the Imperial Opera House opened.
The Imperial was also stretching the truth by calling itself an Opera House: it was actually more like an assembly hall. Local architect A.E. Crickmay and financier Hugh Robson built the Imperial in 1889 on Pender Street at Abbott. The Imperial had separate waiting rooms for men and women, a bar and two ticket offices; it could hold about 600 patrons. Vancouver's first Shakespearean production, Richard III, was performed at the Imperial in December 1889.
Seen above is a later incarnation of the Imperial, The Venus Theatre, which, until recently, was a porn theatre. The fly tower was apparently functioning.
Sadly, the theatre was torn down in October of 2007.

1891: Bernhardt Flops in Vancouver

World-famed actress Sarah Bernhardt appeared in Vancouver, but audience numbers fell off sharply when it was found she acted only in French.

1891: Opera House Opens

In February, 1891, when the population of Vancouver was only about 13,000, the Vancouver Opera House, built for the Canadian Pacific Railway, opened on Granville with 2,000 seats.

The first performance was the Emma Juch Grand English Opera Company. They were brought to Vancouver at a cost of $10,000 and performed Wagner's Lohengrin. In September, Sarah Bernhardt appeared in F├ędora and La Tosca.
The Vancouver Opera House was located on the west side of Granville Street between Georgia and Robson, built by the C.P.R. adjacent to the first Hotel Vancouver, and owned by them until 1909. It could hold over 1,000 patrons in orchestra, gallery and box seating, and had a drop scene with a Canadian view of mountains (The Three Sisters) and the Bow River. Made in New York, the drop arrived in Vancouver by rail on two flatcars. Notably, electric lights were used as a replacement for gas lighting. Evening dress was required for both men and women, and Hansom cabs took patrons to the door; for those returning by streetcar, the whole system would be held past its usual 11 p.m. closing time until the audience came out. Until 1912, it served as the city's principal theatre for touring companies and important solo performers.

1889: Kipling Becomes Vancouver Landowner

In 1889, the writer Rudyard Kipling visited Vancouver and bought land here: two lots at the southeast corner of East 11th Avenue and Fraser Street.

1861: Richmond Island Named After "Sweet" Singer

In 1861 Col. Richard Moody of the Royal Engineers named Lulu Island in Richmond in honor of 16-year-old singer Lulu Sweet, a visiting member of a touring San Francisco musical revue.

1969: International Festival Closes

After 11 years, the Vancouver International Festival, debt-ridden, came to an end.

1969: Early Music Society Formed

The Vancouver Early Music Society was formed by Jon Washburn, Ray Nurse, David Skulsky, Hans-Karl Piltz and Cuyler Page. Its purpose was and is “to foster interest in medieval, renaissance, and baroque music.”

1969: The Poppy Family Reach No. 2

Terry Jacks and The Poppy Family had a smash hit (it reached #2 in the US) with Which Way You Goin' Billy?

The Poppy Family, made up of Susan and Terry Jacks, had a number of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Where Evil Grows, That's Where I Went Wrong and Which Way You Goin' Billy? The latter tune reached No. 1 in Canada and sold 2.5 million copies worldwide.

Susan (born 1948 nee Pesklevits - Saskatoon, Sask), eventually left Terry (Seasons in the Sun) and set off on a solo career that showed promise until problems arose with her record label. Jacks is now a businesswoman in Nashville.

1969: A Banner Year For Film In BC

Film production began here in earnest, with Robert Altman's That Cold Day in the Park. In director Altman's first Vancouver feature, a lonely, delusional spinster (Sandy Dennis) picks up a young drifter (Michael Burns) in Kitsilano's Tatlow Park. Another major production: Robert Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson and Karen Black.
Other movies made locally this year included (comments are by Michael Walsh):
Great Coups of History
Written and directed by Ron Darcus, this told the story of a single mom (Delphine Harvey) who reminisces about a life spent trading on her female charms, while her teenaged daughter (Janie Cassie) struggles with her own budding sexuality.
The Mad Room
Directed by Bernard Girard, this was a remake of 1941's Ladies in Retirement, the story of a lady's companion (Stella Stevens) whose teenaged siblings are suspects in the murder of her employer (Shelley Winters).
The Plastic Mile (aka The Finishing Touch and She's a Woman). Directed by Morrie Ruvinsky. The story of an unhinged director (Jace Vander Veen) who raped his leading lady (Pia Shandel) during the making of his magnum opus, this controversial “art movie” added new sex scenes to each successive version.

1969: Pacific Ballet Established

The Pacific Ballet Theatre was established by Maria Lewis, after a career as a dancer in Montreal and Toronto. The company grew slowly to semi-professional regional status, with a repertoire of small works in classical style. Lewis would be succeeded in 1980 by Kamloops-born Renald Rabu. In 1985 the company would be renamed Ballet British Columbia.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

1969: First Community Cable Channel

Vancouver Cablevision (later Rogers Cable) initiated the Lower Mainland's first community cable channel. Radio man Vic Waters, along with partners Dave Liddell and Gerry Rose, operated the service on a shoestring budget—and the attitude was rather casual. Martin Truax, who joined in 1970, recalls Waters getting calls from viewers who said they missed a show: “Vic would say, ‘No problem. I'll just run it again for you right now!’

1969: Promoter Lily Laverock Dies In Obscurity

Lily Laverock
December 2, 1969
Impresario Lily Laverock died in Duncan, about 89. She was born in Edinburgh, c. 1880. She came to Vancouver as a child with her parents. She was the first woman to graduate in moral philosophy from McGill. She was the first woman (1908) employed as a general reporter by a Vancouver newspaper (The World). On October 4, 1909, when the Vancouver branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club was formed, she was the chief organizer and the first secretary-treasurer. She moved to the News-Advertiser in 1910 and became editor of the women’s page. “Her pen was ever ready in the cause of women's suffrage.” She never married. Quiet, shy, ethereally attractive, she made her greatest contribution to local fame when she became an impresario. An avid arts supporter, she promoted her first Celebrity Concert in 1921. The world-famous performers she brought to the city in the 1920s and 1930s make for an eye-popping list: Kreisler, Heifetz, Melba, Gigli, Casals, Chaliapin, Maurice Ravel at the piano . . . and on and on. She packed the Denman Arena with acts like the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Belgian Royal Symphonic Band. WWII ended her impresario efforts. Today, despite her immense contribution to the city’s cultural life, she’s almost totally forgotten.

1989: Little Orpheum Ackery Dies on Eve of 90th

Ivan AckeryIvan (Ivor Frederick) Ackery Movie promoter b. Oct. 30, 1899, Bristol, Eng.; d. Oct. 29, 1989, Vancouver, on the eve of his 90th birthday. Moved to Vancouver in 1914. As manager of the Orpheum Theatre (1935-69), he was known as Mr. Orpheum, Atomic Ack and Little Orpheum Ackery. Promotional stunts earned him two Motion Picture Quigley Awards, the theatre promoters' equivalent of an Oscar. Paraded a cow down Granville with a sign: "There's a great show at the Orpheum and that's no bull." The lane behind the Orpheum is called Ackery Alley. Biblio: Fifty Years on Theatre Row.


Read more about Ivan Ackery here...