Monday, September 8, 2014

Ackery and Hayward

As we know, the Orpheum Theatre was a big deal in show business and celebrities would show up in person from time to time. Ivan, with a few exceptions, never felt really comfortable around them. In his autobiography, Fifty Years on Theatre Row, he says he felt like an imposter, a little uneasy and unsure of why he was in the company of such celebrated people.  "Even through all my show business years there was always that kind of feeling of being alone in the world."

In 1942, the movie Forest Rangers with Fred MacMurray, Paulette Goddard and Susan Hayward was to premier at the Orpheum. It was an exciting time because Hayward was going to be there in person, not only to help sell the movie but also to promote the sale of war bonds. And Ivan was delegated to escorting Ms. Hayward to different places where the bonds and the movie could be promoted.

“The night of the opening was really something,” Ivan recalled. “Granville Street was closed to traffic, with bands playing and guards of honor from the Army, Navy and Air Force lining the streets.” A police escort brought Hayward to the theatre while searchlights played over the crowd. In Ivan's office, Lieutenant-Governor William Woodward, Vancouver mayor Jack Cornett and other VIPs were waiting for the movie star's arrival. She was beautiful and glamorous and courteous. Everything was going so well until...

“When Miss Hayward arrived in the theatre I escorted her to my office and, my gosh, if she didn’t trip on a step, lose her balance, fall and sprain her ankle. I couldn’t believe it! It was like a bad dream! A 30-piece orchestra was waiting on stage; a full house was anticipating the introduction of this famous lady; but she was now stretched out in my office with her foot on a chair, her complexion about the same shade as her dress, and pain written all over her face. What to do?

“I had the orchestra play another number while we decided, but soon Miss Hayward recovered enough for me to carry her on stage for the introduction, which was all the more appealing to the audience, I’m sure, and I can’t say that I minded it a bit.”

That wasn't the end of Hayward's trials in Vancouver though. Ivan took her to the train so she could go home to Los Angeles. As the train was pulling out of the station, Miss Hayward yelled “Oh! Ivan! My fur coat! I’ve forgotten my fur coat!”. Ivan yelled back not to worry, he would get her coat.

Ackery went to the hotel, found the coat in the closet then got into his car to drive to  Blaine, Washington with the hopes of meeting Miss Hayward's train there. However, he forgot about the delay at the border and arrived in Blaine “just in time to wave at Miss Hayward’s train, disappearing into the distance.”

He did eventually get the coat back to her.

As usual, I want to thank The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the above information. There is still a lot to say about Mr. Ackery so stay tuned.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Poor Ivan. I'd have died with embarrassment. Ah, the rich and famous.

    1. At least he got to carry her! And look at how hard he tried to get her coat to her - I wonder if there are many people around today that would try that hard.

  2. I am sure there are a few but chivalry went out when I was growing up.