Monday, August 25, 2014

A Legend is Formed

When I left off on Friday, Ivan Ackery was working for the Capitol Theatre in Calgary, part of the Pantages circuit. It was here that he began to be influenced by the traits that would later mark his career - lavish surroundings, elegantly attired staff, personal attention and, of course, spectacular events.

“I got to meet many of the old vaudeville performers and was fascinated by them. I became acquainted with the two stage hands who’d prepare the scenery for each week, and the projectionist, and to understand a little about their work. I was so interested in it all.”

In 1923, Ackery and a friend had enough of cow town and travelled to Vancouver in a cattle car. They had gotten jobs feeding and watering the animals.

When the young Ivan got to Vancouver, he got a job at the Capital Theatre here as an usher. And he appeared in the city directories in 1924 for the first time. “I Ackery.” He’s an usher at the Capitol Theatre and he lives at Apartment 5, 1123 Barclay Street.

However, Ackery had a wander's soul. In April of 1924, he saw an ad by a man driving to Los Angeles who was looking for passengers to help pay expenses. Ivan took a six-month leave of absence from his job and went to the City of Angels. There he got a job as a bellboy at a Los Angeles Athletic club. His warm personality and smile worked for him. By the time he left, six months later,  he was head bellboy.

But after the six months were up - the longest he could stay under U.S. law - Ivan was happy to return to Vancouver. Some may say that he went to get a peek at Hollywood and that may be. Either way, it was a lark for him. Fortunately, Ralph Ruffner, the manager of the Capitol Theatre, hired Ackery back and not long after, he was named head usher.

At this time, the Capitol Theatre was the most prestigious theatre in town. Much more elegant than it's younger cousin, the Orpheum.  The Capitol had its own orchestra - Orpheum—with its own orchestra, Calvin Winter and his Capitolians, and the pick of the best films. Some 1924 titles: Sherlock, Jr., counted by some as Buster Keaton’s greatest comedy; The Last Laugh with Emil Jannings, a classic German drama and one of the great silent films; The Thief of Baghdad, with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Lon Chaney’s He Who Gets Slapped. Those were all silent films, the 'talkies' weren't here yet.

Ivan entered a Charleston contest at the Capitol and with the help of the orchestra, he won. He was then asked to organize and emcee a city-wide Charleston contest. He was nervous about the emceeing but he got over that and became quite good at it. This was a talent that would serve him well in the future.

Thanks goes, once again, to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Fancy that! Guy had some real talent and me to scared to even take a leap of faith. Most promising thing I ever did was get a bachelors degree in Psychology and never ever got to use it. I have rotten timing. lol

    1. He was interesting,wasn't he? Wait until I get into some of Ackery's promotional ideas. You will love it!