Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ivan, WWII and Cary Grant

Then came World War II. Ivan worked hard to keep the citizens of Vancouver entertained at the Orpheum Theatre. Sometimes, he would put on huge military shows, “put on by as many as 350 soldiers, sailors, airmen and women at one time. The way they sang—and the audience with them—it was a stirring experience.”

Ackery was also a stickler for detail. If it were a slow night, he would instruct the usherettes to seat the people throughout the auditorium. “A lop-sided house looks terrible,” he said. When a new film opened, he would sit in the theatre for the first showing. Then he would have a discussion with the projectionist the running time and the volume of the sound. He might have suggested cutting a piece from the newsreel if the feature was too long

“If the feature was a drama, I might suggest an increase in the sound volume at just the right moment to give the heroine’s screams maximum effect . . . I emceed most of the shows myself, in the belief that the public enjoyed having their own manager, for the informal atmosphere that gave to the program.”

Ivan made many trips to Hollywood and New York to pick up awards for his promotional efforts. On these trips, he would associate with celebrities such as Gene Tierney, Michael Caine, Victor Jory, Alan Ladd, Elizabeth Taylor, Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, George Sanders, Jack Benny and so many others. However, he never felt quite comfortable around them, as I have said before.

There were some he was able to feel at home around though.

"One day [in 1947] we were going onto the set at RKO where The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer was being made, with Shirley Temple, Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Rudy Vallee and Ray Collins. The P.R. man went over and told Mr. Grant that I’d said I was from Bristol and knew where his mother was. She’d run a store in Bristol for years, quite close to where my family lived. “He walked over to me and in that particularly rapid, clipped way of speaking he had, he said, ‘You from Bristol?’

“I replied, ‘O-o-oh, Mister,” in the Somersetshire accent that we both knew so well. ‘I was born right where you went to school.’ He’d attended the Merchant Venturer’s School, about a block away from my home. He’d been born Archie Leach in 1904. I met him several times after that, sometimes in Vancouver, and he was always a very pleasant fellow.”

Thanks goes to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the information and the copy of the movie photo.

 Friday, I will tell you about Ivan and Gary Cooper. Until then, I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. This is a good scoop. My mom used to tell me that while the war was on they'd go to the movies to hangout. She said they'd have a movie cost $0.25 then play half and they'd have to go to the next movie at same cost to see the finish. They loved it.

    1. So in actuality, it was $0.50 for a movie! LOL

  2. Yep, and by doing that they were sure to draw a crowd back into the theatre. Now movies cost $8.50 which is 1,700% increase. Inflation, lol