|Founded||February 1940 in Hershey, Pennsylvania|
|Founders||Arena Managers Association|
|Defunct||August 15, 1997|
The Ice Capades were traveling entertainment shows featuring theatrical ice skating performances. Shows often featured former Olympic and US National Champion figure skaters who had retired from formal competition. Started in 1940, the Ice Capades grew rapidly and prospered for 50 years. A decline in popularity ensued in the 1980s, and the show went out of business around 1995. There have been several attempts to revive the show and its name.
Similar traditional ice-skating entertainment shows included the Ice Follies and Holiday on Ice.
Ice Capades was founded in February 1940 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, by nine men who called themselves the Arena Managers Association. They met to discuss forming an ice show to play in their arenas during the 1940-1941 entertainment season. The arenas represented were all well-known venues of the day:
In 1936, Harris had hired the legendary skater Sonja Henie to perform between periods of ice hockey games. She created a sensation among Pittsburghers, confirming his faith in ice skating's potential as a spectator amusement.The other arena managers agreed with this assessment, chose the name "Ice Capades", and formed a group of skaters.
The group's first performance was four months after its founding, on June 16, 1940, at New Orleans Municipal Auditorium. The show closed there on June 29 and moved to Atlantic City Convention Hall, where it played nightly from July 19 through September 2. Famous skaters in the large cast included Belita, Vera Hruba, and Robin Lee. The group's first touring season under the Ice Capades name covered 24 cities between November 1940 and May 1941.
The show's success spawned two films from Republic Pictures, Ice-Capades (1941),and Ice-Capades Revue (1942). The films featured actors and entertainers such as James Ellison, Ellen Drew, Jerry Colonna, and Phil Silvers, as well as the Ice Capades skaters. They were not considered to be films of quality, and the first one was panned by The New York Times .
In 1942, the show featured world champion skater Megan Taylor, new talent Donna Atwood, and an acrobatic team from Boston called the Hub Trio featuring Leonard Mullen, Kenneth Mullen and Eddie Raiche. They were the first in the world to perform a back flip without the use of hands. The next year, U.S. figure skating champion Bobby Specht joined the show; he would be actively involved with Ice Capades for the next 31 years. 1943 also introduced the "Old Smoothies", Orrin Markhus, 51, and his partner Irma Thomas, 44, plus Trixie, the skating juggler. The production number "Toys for Sale" was the first story on ice with original words and music.
Ice Capades shows were extremely popular for several decades and became a household name, although they were criticized by some as kitsch.From 1941 through 1981, the Ice Capades show was a summertime fixture at what was then known as Atlantic City Convention Hall.
In 1946 Ice Cycles, a co-production, was formed with Ice Follies.In 1949, Ice Follies left the Ice Cycles show leaving it under Ice Capades' ownership. Starting in 1949, Ice Capades started adding Disney's character segment to their performances. Costumes from those shows were used at the opening of Disneyland in 1955, and some performers were hired away by Disney.
Harris sold the company circa 1964 to Metromedia. [ citation needed ] In 1986, then-owner Metromedia sold Ice Capades, 15 Ice Chalet skating rinks, and the Harlem Globetrotters as a package to International Broadcasting Corporation for $30 million.By the mid 1970s, Ice Capades had grown to three different touring companies under one Ice Capades umbrella: The East Company (the original 1940 company), the West Company, and the Continental Company (formed in 1974). In this period, they owned several railroad baggage cars that were used to transport the show.
A decline in popularity began in the 1980s, and the parent company went bankrupt in 1991. Olympic champion Scott Hamilton joined the show in 1984 but later left to start his own show, Stars on Ice. On June 24, 1993, Dorothy Hamill, who headlined the East Company from 1977 to 1984,[ citation needed ] bought Ice Capades' assets in a bankruptcy sale via Dorothy Hamill International company. Hamill International developed Frozen in Time: Cinderella on Ice, a theatrical style show billed as Dorothy Hamill's Ice Capades. The new company took on millions in loans to stay afloat, but attendance figures remained stagnant. In May 1994, the Shriners dropped its sponsorship of the Christmas show in favor of Disney On Ice.
In February 1995, Hamill sold the company for $10 million to television evangelist Pat Robertson's company, International Family Entertainment (IFE). Hamill and her husband, Dr. Ken Forsythe, were retained as president and CEO, respectively.Ice Capades planned a tour of arenas as well as a TV special in China's Tiananmen Square but went out of business a short time later.
The tour had a lackluster season which led Hamill to leave the company. IFE then searched for a management firm to handle the touring company for an equity stake. Instead, however, IFE sold Ice Capades in late 1995, to Del Wilber & Associates, while retaining the option to reacquire a majority ownership stake for 10 years.
In 1996, Ice Capades and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer developed The Magic of MGM, which included Dairy Queen among its sponsors.On August 15, 1997, Del Wilber shut down operations and laid off the performers. IFE had apparently continued to fund the Ice Capades as a secured creditor. IFE was acquired by Fox Kids Worldwide, funding was halted, and two scheduled tours were canceled.
Analysts believe the increasing popularity of the sport of figure skating meant that more sophisticated audiences came to prefer straightforward Olympic-style ice-skating competitions, or skating shows for adults (i.e., without cartoon characters), such as Stars on Ice. At the same time, shows such as Disney on Ice (featuring Disney cartoon characters) successfully competed for the child audience.
In the fall of 2000, Ice Capades was resurrected by Garden Entertainment in its original format, with a large cast of skaters. The new show was conceived, directed, and choreographed by the former German pair skating champion Almut Lehmann Peyper. The show was not a financial success and closed in November 2000, canceling the remaining tour dates.
Another attempt to revive Ice Capades was made in the spring of 2008, with plans for a tent show production called "Mystika", billed as "Cirque Meets Ice". In mid-August 2008, auditions were held in Lake Placid, New York for the all new Ice Capades. Developed by Entertainment Holdings and Red Brick Entertainment, Ice Capades was announced for production as live skating shows, television specials, episodic series, and web content. Three-time U.S. pairs champion and two-time Olympian JoJo Starbuck was named as Artistic Director.However, in April 2009, the tour was canceled by its organizers, Garden Family Shows, stranding many of the performers without pay and leaving suppliers unpaid.
Former Ice Capades skaters have organized reunions, typically held every five years. The 2010 reunion, held in Las Vegas, commemorated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Ice Capades, and was attended by more than 500 people.The 75th Diamond Jubilee Celebration was held in June 2015.
Licensed characters and properties used in productions included "A Flintstone Fantasy" (1967),[ citation needed ] "Hey Kids, Meet The Snorks!" (1985) and "The Ewoks" (1986).[ citation needed ] From 1989 to 1990, as part of the show's 50th anniversary, the Ice Capades had a tour that featured a variety of segments, including appearances from Olympic medalist Elizabeth Manley, Super Mario Bros. , and Barbie . On December 28, 1989, ABC aired the Ice Capades in a special hosted by Jason Bateman and Alyssa Milano. The special was written by Bruce Vilanch.
Ice Capades Tours
Ice Capades theatrical shows
In 1946, Ice Cycles was started as a co-production with Ice Follies and was designed to tour in smaller cities. They used skaters and production numbers from both tours.In 1949, Ice Follies left the Ice Cycles show, leaving it under Ice Capades' ownership. Ice Cycles continued as a second tier touring company. In 1956, the Ice Cycles name was dropped in favor of the name Ice Capades.
These are some of the many notable skaters who appeared in Ice Capades shows or were involved in other aspects of the company:
In the early 1950s, the group started using portable ice rinks, called "tanks". This made it possible for them to perform in arenas that did not have their own ice surface, greatly expanding the number of venues where the show could operate. It took several days and 30-40 workers to install the tanks. In the late 1960s, Ice Capades designed and patented a new portable ice rink system that could be installed in less than 10 hours on most arena basketball floors or other surfaces.
In 1966, Ice Capades bought an ice skating rink in Topanga Plaza shopping center, Canoga Park, California. The success of this venture led to the establishment of the Ice Capades Chalet Division, which owned and operated about 13 rinks, ran ice skating schools, and developed a curriculum that could develop a skater from beginner to competitive skater. Most of the Chalets were in California and Texas; others were in Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. The chalets were started by Michael Kirby, former voice of Ice Capades shows, and eventually expanded to over two dozen facilities under the management of ISI Hall of Famer and Ice Capades VP, Michael R. Booker.
The show has been widely parodied, for example by cartoonist Gary Larson's comic strip The Far Side with good-natured comics captioned "Ice Crusades"and "Dirt Capades".
Dorothy Stuart Hamill is a retired American figure skater. She is the 1976 Olympic champion and 1976 World champion in ladies' singles.
Winterland Ballroom was an ice skating rink and music venue in San Francisco, California. The arena was located at the corner of Post Street and Steiner Street. It was converted for exclusive use as a music venue in 1971 by concert promoter Bill Graham and became a common performance site for many famous rock artists. Graham later formed a merchandising company called Winterland which sold concert shirts, memorabilia, and official sports team merchandise.
Holiday on Ice is an ice show currently owned by Medusa Music Group GmbH, a subsidiary of CTS EVENTIM, Europe's largest ticket distributor, with its headquarters in Bremen, Germany.
Disney on Ice, originally Walt Disney's World on Ice, is a series of touring ice shows produced by Feld Entertainment's Ice Follies And Holiday on Ice, Inc. under agreement with The Walt Disney Company. Aimed primarily at children, the shows feature figure skaters portraying the roles of Disney characters in performances derived from various Disney films. Feld Entertainment licensed the rights to Disney material for ice shows and includes shared merchandising revenue between Disney and Ice Follies.
The Duquesne Gardens was the main sports arena located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the first half of the 20th century. Built in 1890, the building originally served as a trolley barn, before becoming a multi-purpose arena. The Gardens opened three years after a fire destroyed the city's prior sports arena, the Schenley Park Casino, in 1896. Over the years, the Gardens was the home arena of several of Pittsburgh's historic sports teams, such as ice hockey's Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Hornets. The Western Pennsylvania Hockey League, which was the first ice hockey league to openly hire and trade players, played all of its games at the Gardens. The arena was also the first hockey rink to ever use glass above the dasher boards. Developed locally by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, Herculite glass was first tested in Pittsburgh. Most rinks were using wire mesh before the shatterproof glass was invented. Finally, the Pittsburgh Ironmen, a charter member of the Basketball Association of America, played at the Gardens from 1946 to 1947.
Alena "Ája" Vrzáňová was a Czech figure skater who represented Czechoslovakia in competition. Vrzáňová is the 1949 & 1950 World champion and 1950 European champion.
Natasha Maria Hanako Kuchiki is an American former competitive pair skater. She is the 1991 World bronze medalist with Todd Sand.
Hersheypark Arena is a multi-purpose indoor arena located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, managed by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company. The arena has a seating capacity, for hockey, of 7,286 people and in excess of 8,000, including standing room.
Lloyd Valdemar "Skippy" Baxter was an American figure skater. Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, his family moved to Oakland, California when he was 1 year of age. Skippy started his skating career as a speed skater. Often winning awards as a youth Speed skater in Oakland, California. Then later, he won two medals at the 1940 United States Figure Skating Championships: a bronze in men's singles and a silver in pair skating with Hedy Stenuf. Baxter went on to skate professionally with the Ice Capades, working with Sonja Henie in her shows.
The Ice Follies, formerly known as the Shipstads & Johnson Ice Follies, is a touring ice show featuring elaborate production numbers, similar in concept to Ice Capades. It was founded in 1936 by Eddie and Roy Shipstad, and Oscar Johnson. In later years, Olympic skaters such as Donald Jackson, Barbara Berezowski, Peggy Fleming, and Janet Lynn were in the cast. Ice Follies also featured novelty acts such as Frick and Frack and Richard Dwyer, who was billed as "Mr. Debonair".
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Erik Larson is an American former competitive figure skater. He is the 1985 World Junior champion and won senior international medals at the Nebelhorn Trophy, Grand Prix International St. Gervais, and Skate Electric.
Sarah Kawahara is a Canadian figure skater and choreographer who has won two Emmy Awards.
An ice show is an entertainment production which is primarily performed by ice skaters. Such shows may primarily be skating exhibitions, or may be musical and/or dramatic in nature, using skating as a medium in order to accompany a musical work or to present a story. The term generally excludes skating competitions in (professional) sports. Many companies produce fixed or touring ice shows, which are then performed for the general public in facilities such as multipurpose arenas or skating rinks which can accommodate spectators, or in theatres with a temporary ice surface installed on the stage. Ice shows are also featured as entertainment in amusement parks and on some large cruise ships.
The Disney Theatrical Group, legally Buena Vista Theatrical Group Ltd., is the live show, stageplay and musical production arm of The Walt Disney Company. The company is led by Thomas Schumacher, and forms a part of Walt Disney Studios, one of the six major business segments of The Walt Disney Company.
Feld Entertainment Inc. is an American live show production company which owns a number of traveling shows. The company began with the now-defunct Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus then expanded into additional live events, including Disney On Ice, Monster Jam, AMA Supercross Championship, and Sesame Street Live. The company is family owned.
Peter A. Tyrrell was an entertainment entrepreneur in Philadelphia, most prominently associated with the Philadelphia Arena. He was one of eleven founders of what eventually became the National Basketball Association, and was a founder and the first president of the Ice Capades.
Colin Ratushniak is a Canadian professional ice skater and politician who appeared in the TV show Dancing on Ice in 2011, with celebrity skating partner Laura Hamilton. In September 2012, Ratushniak attained a two-year visa and moved to the UK to concentrate on building a career in TV production. In November 2020, he was elected the mayor of the town of La Ronge, Saskatchewan.
John H. Harris (1898–1969) was an entertainment executive from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the son of movie theater pioneer John P. Harris, and is best known as the long-time owner and impresario of the Ice Capades. He was also an early owner and promoter of professional ice hockey teams. He was married for ten years to ice skating star Donna Atwood.
Ice-Capades Revue is a 1942 American comedy film directed by Bernard Vorhaus, and written by Bradford Ropes and Gertrude Purcell. The film stars Ellen Drew, Richard Denning, Jerry Colonna, Barbara Jo Allen, Harold Huber and Marilyn Hare. The film was released on December 24, 1942, by Republic Pictures.
john h harris ice capades.
Bruce Villanche (sic), who wrote this year's Academy Awards show, was in Chicago recently to fine-tune the patter for the television special 'The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,' and he is also working on material for the upcoming ABC 'Ice Capades' show with Jason Bateman, which will be televised Dec. 28.