Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ivan Gets Promoted

I took a couple of days off from writing this blog. I decided to get some extra rest since this is a big week for me. I am starting personal workshops to help people reach their goals. Look into it and tell others please.

So the last I told you of Ivan Ackery was continuing with his promotional stunts even though the country was in the midst of a depression and he - as well as other Famous Players staff - had been forced to take a cut in pay.

In 1932, Ackery was transferred to Victoria to manage the Capitol Theatre. He did well but something suggests he was anxious to return to Vancouver. The mainland city had more than doubled in size and population. On January 1, 1929, the municipalities of Point Grey and South Vancouver amalgamated, making Vancouver the third largest city in Canada.

 In 1934, Ivan returned to Vancouver. He was to manage the newly reopened Strand Theatre. The Strand was located on the south side of Granville Street, at Seymour and had been closed due to the Depression. The fine vaudeville acts that had once performed there were moved to the Orpheum. Ackery was pleased, to say the least, to be managing this theatre.

“It was a grand theatre, the third largest in the city, and I was extremely proud . . .”

Originally, the Strand was opened as the Allen theatre by Mayor R.H. Gale on August 16, 1920. The Allens - Jules and Jay J. - had been in a race with Famous Players to build Canada's first deluxe movie house and the Allens had won by almost a year. The Allen Theatre was billed as ‘The Theatre Beautiful—Canada’s Finest and most Modern.’

It had taken six months to build and cost $300,000. Howard C. Crane was the architect and Charles Marega was the sculptor.  The Allens may have opened first, and it sounds like it was a beautiful theatre, but Famous Players had the last laugh. “Within a year the theatre was bankrupt and Dewees and Schuberg bought it for five cents on the dollar. Famous Players later bought a half share in it, then took it over entirely in 1944.”

The Strand Theatre in 1948. Compliments of The City of Vancouver Archives

Ivan wasted no time in making his presence known as manager of the Strand. The first thing he did was to get Scott's Bakery to bake a giant cake that stood as tall as a man. It was the theatre's 14th birthday and all week every patron was given a piece of cake.

Ivan Ackery was edging into the big time - The Fanchon and Marco shows returned and Vancouver impresario Lily Laverock booked the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo into the theatre. But his destiny was sealed in 1935 when Ackery was informed he was to become the manager of the Orpheum Theatre, the largest theatre in Canada.
It was such a thrill for me, and I can remember how excited my mother got.” 

“I recall how tickled I was because I’d be getting a $10 a week raise!”

And Famous Players got a lot for those ten dollars.

Thanks to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.