Where Are They Now Articles?
What got you started on your show biz career path?
Always enjoyed playing Hockey in High School. When hockey left Washington D.C. I started figure skating in a small rink owned by former Ice Capades personnel. After we lost our team in a plane crash in Europe I decided to audition for the show In Atlantic City.
What did you do while you were with Ice Capades?
I skated line (pictured with the lovely Brita Berntsen), with East in 1961 and West in 1962. Then to staff, Sound, Lighting, Stage Mgr., Asst. Mgr.
I joined East Company at the opening of the Pittsburgh Arena on Sept. 28th 1961 after receiving a Telegram from Leo Loeb. Lots of stories about the building opening. I moved with the production to West Company the following year and started doing extra jobs. Ice crew, tank setup, and started to understudy sound. I skated the Halleluiah Year. Still laughing about to finale escapees.
Audio Supervisor in 1965 and off to 2 years in the Army from 66 to 68.
Daughter Christine, who also skated with Ice Capades 87-88, was born at White Sands Missile Range while I was in the Army. After rejoining the Show in 1968 I enjoyed various jobs including Audio Supervisor, Lighting Director, Stage Mgr. and Assistant Manager.
The single memory that stands out for me, beyond all of the wonderful Ice Capades people, was attending the 1972 World Championships in Calgary and along with Lucile Miller and Taffy Wood taking the Champions on a 15 city tour across the United States and Canada. What a wonderful experience. Tour of Champions 1972.
Where did you end up after you hung up your skates?
After the Tour of Champions I came in to home office in Hollywood where I worked until 1988 when I left as VP of Operations to join Ticketron as Western Regional VP. 1990 found me working for Dick Palmer at another company owned by John Kluge, Metromedia Technologies as the VP and GM Los Angeles. In 1997 I transferred to another Metromedia company Guest Informant where I was President and CEO until I retired at the end of 2000.
After retirement I started working with my wife in her company, Leadership Strategies International and spent 13 outstanding years volunteering and riding with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Posse.
Today my wife of 36 wonderful years, Dr. Laura Hauser and I live in Santa Clarita CA. Laura teaches at Fielding University, Santa Barbara CA and Royal Roads University in Victoria BC. We enjoy working together in our consulting company, Leadership Strategies International. www.leadership-strategies.com.
We have a son Chris, daughter Christine and two really fun grandkids Parker and Riley.
What’s Next? Enjoying family and spending time together traveling.
As my mother always said, ”Life is short, eat desert first.”
Here’s Dave’s email address. He’d love to hear from you. – email@example.com
Where were you originally from and what brought you to join Ice Capades?
I was born in Marseille France after my father Tony Romano immigrated to France from Italy. Our bicycle family act ‘The Romano’s’ was hired by Ice Capades in Oct 1967. We did tours with East Co and West Co. Later on I learned to skate and became a line skater for a couple years and never stopped auditioning comedy acts for Bob Turk. I finally was given a spot as a comedian and so toured as Jean Pierre in Continental, West Co, East Co and also did the Japan tour. I left Ice Capades in 1984.
What did you learn about being part of an ice show?
Our family did not know what an Ice show was, as we came from Vegas shows and circus. But that first time we saw the show (as we arrived in Cleveland to join) with 10 spot lights and the white ice, the skaters gliding with smiles on their faces and the music from a full orchestra, we were in Heaven. I remember telling my father that we hit the jackpot. Little did I know that I would end up doing Comedy in the greatest show on Ice.
What are your fondest memories of being part of the show?
It is the night we joined which changed my life. Opening nights. I love the train trips and the travels across Canada and the US. Also as a laugh, my brother locked Johnny Labreque in the bathroom without him knowing (in Chicago) and then yelled “fire”…. to this day I’m still laughing.
Where did you end up after you hung up your skates?
I left Capades in 1984 and was offered to go to Holiday on Ice in Europe but decided to switch careers and so stayed In Los Angeles and now live in Woodland Hills, CA with my beautiful family.
My career path took a turn to the movie industry and I became a Stuntman, a Stunt Coordinator and 2nd unit director for movies and television. I have doubled for Charles Bronson, Sir Anthony Hopkins. Worked with many wonderful movie stars of our era….You might recognize me but you’re not supposed to!
If you would like to get in touch with JP, here’s his email address: Wobblybike@yahoo.com
‘Never stop looking for what’s not there’
Gloria (Lor) Spoden
I was one of 5 skaters who were hired in Feb. 1966 to begin the rehearsals for 66-67 East Co. tour. Our first city was Washington DC and we were already a couple days late due to a snowstorm that almost shut the show down. (see Laurie Tepper Goldsmith’s recollection below) Heard that they called 10 minute call from the bus. I was in the National/East Company from 66-71, 3 of them as Line Captain and got my professional debut in New York by being one of Soupy Sales ‘birds’ and un-ceremoniously got hit in the face with a pie every night.
Once I left the show, I wound up living in LA and was Skating School Director at the No. Hollywood IC Chalet for a short while. My career path continued by being the Office Manager for the Dupree Dance Academy. If anyone came to his studio to take dance classes in the 70’s and saw a long haired person behind the desk that was me. I then spent some time at Paramount Pictures working in the TV Production office. I guess I missed the change in the seasons and eventually moved back to Toronto, working for the CBC. Short-lived time in Toronto and I was back to California, this time to Orange County where I spent time working for Doubletree Hotels for a few years. I finally decided that Toronto was my home so in 1996, returned for the last time and have been back ever since. I have one son who is getting married this year to his high school sweetheart of 18 years. Am so proud of his accomplishments and look forward to the next phase of their lives.
Why did you want to join Ice Capades and what is your fondest memory?
I wrote in my high school year book that my goal was to ‘get out of town’ so when the opportunity came and I auditioned for the show, this was certainly going to be more exciting than working as a teller at the local bank. It was my way out to go and to see the world. I remember telling myself that I wish my eyes were like cameras so I could show my mom what I was seeing and experiencing. The first time we rode into LA on the train, my head was leaning out the open door between the cars trying to see my first palm tree. My fondest memory was creating the friendships then that are still going ‘today’. I am thrilled to have helped put the last 2 reunions together and having the alumni finding each other after being apart for so many years. We are family and will always have that special connection.
I guess we all have to ‘retire’ and that’s where I’m at right now. To keep myself busy and out of trouble I decided to lace up the ole Knebli’s again and have gotten back on the ice after being off for 12 years. Click here to see a little snippet of me still staying upright.
Have added a couple line dancing classes to my exercise program, and along with swimming during the summer, am starting to feel a lot better despite the ole bones complaining all the time. I’m grateful for the time to continue publishing ‘The Blade’ to keep everyone up to date on what’s happening with our ‘family’. I’ve kept the website up and hope you will continue to visit it from time to time as I will keep updating it with ‘The Blade’ information as well as rosters, reunion pictures, obits, etc. to reference.
Thank you for your support and am always happy to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Pitts & Spanky
Where are you originally from? I was originally born in Evanston, Il, the northern small suburb that connects to Chicago.
Which shows were you with? I began in the West company show which is the one that reviewers stated that Spanky stole. After that, like most of comic, novelty acts, we went back and forth between East and West Companies from 1961 – 71.
Why did you want to join Ice Capades and was this your lifelong dream of skating in an ice show?
I had met John H. Harris when I was skating with Eis Ballet Baier’s South American Extravaganza. I stated that I would love to skate in Ice Capades because it was the world’s greatest ice show. He said that the current show was booked, but he would remember me for next year. I returned to Europe and sure enough. I received a contract the following spring from John H. It was for half the money I was making in Europe performing on ice, Casinos, TV, and clubs, but IT WAS ICE CAPADES. So I signed it in an instant. My salary I made up after that first year in West Company so Spanky and I were in Chimpanzee heaven.
What is your fondest memory? My fondest memories were actually two. The first was being able to skate in the same show with my hero, Freddie, and the second was when Spanky performed a 22 foot barrel jump night after night in East Company.
What did you do once you hung up your skates and what are you doing now? I now live in Buenos Aries, just down the street from my daughter and her family. As to what I’m doing now, I am finally enjoying life away from the entertainment world, but my heart still aches because of my leaving my dream show and family that I loved so much, Ice Capades.
I have been writing my memoirs since I moved to Buenos Aires. I hope to get it published soon so you can share my incredible journey.
“Memoirs Of A Chimp On The Rocks” is the autobiography of the International entertainment star, published author, and legendary exotic animal trainer, Dave Pitts. It was from his modest birth in Illinois thru his many years and adventures as an international celebrity in the entertainment industry to those of his attempting to live a somewhat normal life style on the edge of the non-forgiving, addictive world of entertainment that he had been so possessed with throughout his years of experimenting and searching for the missing love and acceptance that he had never received as a child. After a middle aged automobile accident that left him physically and mentally broken and destitute for 18-months as a homeless person, it was on the slow road to recovery that he had finally reached bottom from where he could once again find the courage to fight his way back up to being accepted as an international businessman, creative technology designer, artist and published author. Living in a foreign country as an elderly senior citizen is where he has at last found the missing love and acceptance from his life long search in the innocent eyes of his Grandchildren.
There are 3 books to Dave’s trilogy.
Click here to read a quick synopsis on each book. Memoirs of a Chimp on the Rocks
You may not remember his name but he spent his summers with us in AC always hanging around backstage. He was one of the show kids whose parents had been part of Ice Capades since the beginning. I asked him what it was like to be a ‘show kid’.
About being a show kid…..in the true sense of the phrase ‘ show kid ‘, I wasn’t as I never traveled with the show with my folks, Betty and Leo Loeb. They met as performers in the 40’s and were together until the late 60’s. My mom was raising my sister and I in Cleveland and my Dad was addicted to the road, so they split up. My father was the road manager for a few years and then joined the Executive staff in various capacities.
My sister Lisa and I would visit my father in Atlantic City every summer for a few weeks starting in the late 60’s. I was a rink rat, 12 years old and fascinated by the makings of Ice Capades. I would watch rehearsals all day and come to the show every night. I think I spent more time watching Moe Slutsky drum. I have been in every corner of Convention Hall, even in the half circled beams high above.
My first ‘Job ‘ was working for Mr. (Jack) Balmer, making coffee every morning. I was also Bill Brenner’s um, shadow/helper’ working on the train cars, trailers etc. and learning some very colorful new phrases from Bill. I also got to work on one of the TV specials holding cue cards and running the tapes along with the orchestra during rehearsals. (Lorne Greene and Bobby Gentry were the guest stars). Later on, I would video tape the principal’s performances for them to view. I was there the night The Jelineks fell and Maria broke her pelvis.
I also used to spend a lot of time on the bandstand during the day watching Joey Curran and others working on the tapes etc. When I was 19, Mr. Palmer called my house one day in Cleveland and ‘asked ‘ (more like informed me ) that I was joining Ice Capades as Audio Supervisor! LOL! As it turned out I didn’t have the technical skills to fix the equipment, but I had a blast trying. I eventually went back to college.
Moving forward I was fortunate to land a job with 20th Century-Fox in the new home video field as their market rep in Texas and then LA. I later worked for Disney and Universal in Orlando in marketing, P.R. and special events for almost 20 years. I loved being part of the 75th Anniversary reunion team, in part to honor my mom, who is going to be 96 on March 29th and is still going strong, and as a way to re-connect with one of my all-time passions, the show.
I am semi-retired in Cleveland. As far as my favorite moment with the show, it was opening night in Atlantic City 1974 as the guy on the bandstand running those tapes and a member of Ice Capades! If you would like to connect with Edwin, he can be reached at email@example.com
Here’s Edwin’s own story from the trenches. We were playing Cleveland, my hometown. Every once in a while Lucien Meyer’s chimp Mackey would act up. I saw a friend from high school during our run there and she told me she had seen the show and loved my part in the monkey act. (?) Mackey decided to climb up to the top of the set over the bandstand. It wasn’t the first time. He sat up there taunting Lucien and the audience was roaring The monkey wasn’t budging. I had a candy bar and opened it and offered it up to Mackey. After a few moments he climbed down to get the candy and Lucien grabbed him. The audience was in stiches. I never told my friend the truth.
Ken Shook – Continental & West Companies – 1974 – 1978
Where are you from and where did you live?
I was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Visalia. Shortly after arriving my two sisters had enrolled in dance classes and I would attend their lessons to watch. Because I took an interest on my own, the instructors took me under their wings and began training me in dance as well as basic tumbling skills.
How did you achieve your lifelong dream of skating in an ice show?
At the age of 15 I saw my first Ice Capades performance which got me interested in wanting to learn how to skate. A temporary rink was opened and I began frequenting the public sessions and would join the others in racing around the ice in their counter clockwise circles around the rink. At about that same time the dance studio was about to close but I continued skating and soon landed my first job at the rink. Having seen in the Ice Capades program that you could audition at 17, I had my heart set on doing just that. My first audition was with Dolly Pierce and Bobby Specht. Thankfully former Capades skaters Myra and Richard Garrett had moved to town to begin a skating school at the rink where I worked. After working hard, and going to my second audition which was conducted by Dolly and Phil Romayne, I was told that my height (5’6”) was an obstacle but to never give up, I began writing to Phil asking for any details on the opening of the third Ice Capades Company. Luckily it was going to happen and they were looking for an acrobat. With a lot of hard work, I was able to perform the backflip as well as well as the back consecutive handsprings and cartwheels. I was finally on my way.
Your Professional skating years –
The new Continental show opened in October of 1974 and after 4 years of first stepping on the ice as well as seeing my first ice show, I was finally realizing my dream of joining the Ice Capades. I played the part of Mark in Lidsville and also assisted Vic Zoble in his comedy trampoline number and did a few line numbers. I remained with Continental for three seasons and then did one season with West Company before joining Holiday on Ice for their South American tour. Years later I also was asked to go to South Africa to perform for Marge Chase in one of her seasonal shows.
What happened after you hung up your skates?
After leaving the show I relocated to Atlanta and it was shortly after that when I became involved in the Fitness Industry. After teaching aerobics at a few small studios I was offered a position as a group exercise director and partner in a start- up chain of clubs that grew to 25 clubs before selling out in June of 2000 after sixteen years. I was involved in many charity events and worked with celebrities such as Richard Simmons and also was the technical judge for the first Step Challenge in 1992 with celebrity guests Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci.
A great opportunity arrived in 1996 when I was asked to be the Fitness Director at the first ever Olympic Village Health Club during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. After selling the business, I took a bit of a break and became the care giver for my Mom. During that time I also served as the Patron Services Director as well as the ADA and Volunteer Coordinator at the Fox theatre which is a 4600 seat venue in downtown Atlanta.
What are you doing now?
After being in that position for 14 years I decided to move into my semi-retirement phase of life so quit there and did a bit of traveling before settling down once again and accepting a couple part time positions with the City of Roswell. I am now enjoying my time off taking daily walks with his four legged companion Cody, doing occasional retreats and am still called on from time to time to serve as House Manager for the local Cultural Arts Center as well as assisting as the Rental Coordinator for the local Adult Recreation Center.
What is your fondest memory?
My biggest thrill was getting to perform alongside the stars that just years earlier he had been watching when I first attended the show as well as just making so many friendships that to this day have become a very special part of my life. I always looks forward to the reunions when we can get together to laugh, share stories about the past and be young again even if just for a few days.
Here’s Ken’s email address if you would like drop him a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Tauber – Ice Capades East & West Companies – 1965 – 1978
It was in the Hershey Arena in Pennsylvania where I saw my first Ice Capades show. It was then I decided that I wanted to become a professional ice skater. In 1965 I started as a line skater. After four years in the chorus, I had worked my way up to, the back—end of the dog. For someone with my limited skating talent this was the end of my performing days.
During those four years, I became interested in the production aspects of the show and worked as audio assistant to Joey Curran. Bob Turk, Rita Palmer, George Foster and Shirley Costello showed confidence in my understanding of the technical aspects of the show and believed it would be better for the show to get me off the ice and on the other end of the spotlights.
After learning some of the basics of lighting design on East Company, I spent one tour with the West Company under the guidance of Ed and Dolly Pierce. I returned to the East Company as Lighting Director and remained in that position until June of 1978.
With my touring days behind me, I secured a position in the Ocean State Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI. The theater was under renovation, which afforded me the opportunity to learn the inner workings of a counterweight rigging system used by touring shows. Leaving Rhode Island in 1981, I headed for Atlantic City.
The Playboy Casino in Atlantic City was my next stop as Lighting Director. Moments before the property closed in 1988, I accepted the position as Head of Lighting at Caesar’s Atlantic City, designing lighting for major—headline performers. In 2004 I moved up the boardwalk to yet another casino, Resorts. The following year, I packed up and moved across country to Las Vegas where I accepted a position as Technical Director at the Las Vegas Hilton, the home of Elvis Presley.
The Tropicana Las Vegas in 2015 offered me the position of Technical Director of Entertainment Operations, a position that I currently hold. I finally made it to the Strip!
I am currently married to Julia, a mother of three sons. Walking into an instant family, I became a proud grandfather of three grandsons and three granddaughters.
The fondest memories were my first few years on tour. Traveling with my fellow performers and taking in all of the points of interest in each city is something that few people are lucky enough to experience. The remaining years with ICE gave me a great education, a wonderful experience and countless memories. Had it not been for that first show in Hershey Pennsylvania and the help of the Ice Capades Family, I would not have had the opportunity for this outstanding career.
Bob Strong – IC East Company 1969
Weather was predictable and consistently below freezing through winters when I was a boy, in Holyoke MA. All the local playgrounds had outdoor ice rinks, flooded with water hoses, and naturally frozen. All the locals, kids through young adults, crowded these outdoor ice rinks. I was a fixture at Mackenzie Field, (Holyoke High School’s foot-ball field) skating every free moment I had—I loved figure skating!
Fulfilling your dream: That winter (1957), my grandmother took me to see The Ice Capades, playing in the next city, Springfield MA. I was overwhelmingly awed and completely smitten with the splendor of this show. I informed Grandma, “I’m going to be in the Ice Capades!” I told everybody: family, school, church, neighbors. Nobody had to ask me what I thought I would do “when I grew up. In my young mind at age 7, this was a done deal!
Who was your inspiration? I joined the area’s only USFSA club in my teens. In 1967, Miss Shawn Barry joined the club as a new coach. I took private lessons from Shawn, a former Ice Capet. Aware of my goal, she prepared me for my planned audition that year when Ice Capades played Springfield. My audition secured a place with Ice Capades’ Corps de Ballet (East Co.). My father had to sign my contract, as I was just 17. I graduated high school, and immediately reported to Atlantic City.
Ice Capades was my first employment ever. I was quite naïve, the youngest of the show’s entire cast. I heard constant griping about living out of suitcases, being always on the road, train travel; and heard that much better pay was outside show business. I heard this so often and from so many I believed it! Now older and wiser, I realize employees everywhere gripe, and “the grass is always greener.” Had I known, I would have ignored their whining! Unfortunately I only stayed with the show for one season.
I soon found work coaching skating in South Florida. I heard from my students about an Ice show in the Sheraton Hotel on Ft Lauderdale beach. I auditioned and was hired on the spot! They were astonished I fit all my double jumps on their tiny rink! Their stars were all good spinners, but only dared single jumps. Audiences literally gasped, followed by loud applause, for these impressive feats on small ice.
What was the highlight of your career? Word of the skater who was now landing the triple flip on 20 X 30 ice reached the ears of Ron Urban, who did cabaret Ice Shows. He called, and asked if I would perform for President Jimmy Carter—AT THE WHITE HOUSE. Of course I agreed! Peggy Fleming was the only female soloist; I was the only male soloist. The show also had a pair team, and 4 line girls. A 20 X 30 real ice stage was set up on the lawn, directly in front of the White House.
Peggy was then doing virtually only lyrical ballet and spins with her perfect postures. I was in my prime! There was no competition. We both dazzled the audience in different ways. Peggy was gorgeous, with her grace, and the respect all have for her past, excellence and Olympic Fame. I thrilled them with full skating repertoire: Arabians, all spins, Russian splits, ALL DOUBLES and my signature triple flip. We both received standing ovations! This prestigious show identified me with famous champions by association.
What have you been doing lately? I met my wife at a rink where I coached and she took private lessons. We were married for 23 years, and have one daughter (who never liked skating). My skating work was self-employment. To better plan for approaching retirement, I needed retirement benefits for our small family. I became a rural letter carrier with The US Postal Service for the 24 years after I quit doing shows—but I have never hung up my skates. I still skate at the few rinks in the NW Florida Panhandle, where I have resided since 1984 to the present.
I do occasional “Piano Bar” entertainment gigs locally (Piano, organ & keyboards). Otherwise, I am enjoying retirement. I have developed a severe allergy to work!
I keep in shape on my small, synthetic practice surface. Click here to see Bob in action today.
To get in touch with Bob, you can contact him on his Facebook page
Nancy Sommer – Advanced Publicist for East & West Companies
Remember me? Back in my term with Ice Capades, you were either running to me, or hiding from me. During my time with the show, we worked together to present information about the show that was interesting, fun, and a little different. Many of you did some great things to help publicize the show and also got your face in front of the camera, or on the pages of the local newspaper, or both.
Did you know that Sashi Kuchiki was a good cook? Or do you remember that he called himself the “only topless skater” in show business? George and Helga Valle also were great cooks, and they all did some cooking on TV to promote the show. And oh yes, we even taught some cities how to cook a full meal in the wonderful electric skillet that we all took with us on tour.
In one city, (Fort Worth) we were able to talk one of the local entertainment editors into auditioning with a pillow tied to his seat. He was 6 ft 5 inches tall, and with skates on, topped out at about 6 ft 8. Maybe one of the best was when the entertainment editor of the Victoria paper brought in a skunk to audition with the Romero family. One of my favorites was Gloria Lor (Spoden), because she was such a good sport and could do anything.
Then, off to the next city, before the show again to get the PR and promotions all set. Armed with my arsenal of two suitcases, electric typewriter, huge case which was home to the Costume Dolls, and other assorted equipment, it was time to go to the next city, ahead of the show, party of one.
And yes, that was quite a few years ago. After leaving the show in 1974, I joined the Sperry and Hutchinson Co. (S&H Green Stamps) as Regional Public Affairs Director, and continued traveling. San Diego beckoned, and became my home for the next twenty eight years, and I loved every second of living there. But home was really Fort Worth, and that once again became home. Now, comfortable in this Texas city, the Convention and Visitors Bureau is where you will find me on an “On call” basis.
They say you can’t go home again, but “they” are mistaken. I miss the show, and all the group who were really like family. You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can never take the Texas out of the girl.
If you would like to get in touch with Nancy… email@example.com
Janet Hansen – East Co. 1974-1975
I started out as a roller skater when I was six years old where I competed in a variety of state and national roller competitions. But when I went to Bowling Green State University for college, I switched to figure skating. Some of you may know a few other BGSU skaters who performed in the Ice Capades…..Scott Hamilton and Mark Beck. While at college I skated in all the annual shows as well as performed at the hockey games (for entertainment at the break) in a synchronized skating group.
I have to admit that I tried out for both Ice Capades and Holiday on Ice, but only “made” it in Capades as a chorus line gal. I had finished my business degree at BG when I joined the show for the 1974-1975 season with the East Company. I only intended to skate the show for one year as I was a very business career oriented gal. But what a wonderful and memorable year it was for me….weigh ins and all. That year’s show included the pink boas for the “Touch of Class” chorus line number. Enjoy my photo!
I met so nice guys and gals while skating….a couple whom I’m still friends with to this day….Hi Marni!! Hi JoJo!
I want to share two very funny memories with all of you…the first one wasn’t funny at the time, but sure is now. As many of you may remember, us chorus line gals wore wigs and to get them off and on quickly, we also wore some type of net or cap over our hair. Well, by now, you can guess the rest of the story. During a very lovely, and serious, Duke Ellington number, my wig fell off during the show. One of the more senior girls, skating near me, correctly guided me to “get off the ice”, which I did.
Our “kiddie” number that year was “It’s Christmas Every Day”. My role was as a tin soldier who had to retrieve one child from the audience, in a very designated area, to enjoy a ride on the Christmas sleigh around the ice. We would typically choose a small kid as they were easier (and safer) to carry. One night, the child I chose, perhaps in a state of wonderful excitement, had a urination accident right in my arms while being carried to the sled. All I can say is that our costumes included gloves.
Other happy memories for me include a very nice Thanksgiving dinner while we were on the road and a fun Halloween party. Of course, being in the Ice Capades, you not only had to dress up, for Halloween, you also had to perform. One of my skater friends and I went as Sonny and Cher and we lip synced one of their songs.
After Capades, I enjoyed a wonderful business career as the Marketing Director at The Dow Chemical Company for a foam sealant product sold at Home Depot called Great Stuff. I am currently retired and live in Atlanta, but still do some work part time as a Marketing Consultant. I don’t skate much anymore, but have recently had the pleasure of meeting with and skating with Tara Lipinski and Merle Davis and Charlie White. I am also a poor, but avid golfer. I have been happily married for 30+ years and my husband Dan and I have two children….Mark, a University of GA grad and Danielle, a GA Tech grad. We are a “house divided“ in college football.
I’d love to hear from any of my “old” friends. You can connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever wonder how our shows got moved from city to city – all those costumes, our sets and even our trunks? You might not have seen him much but Bob Recker and his family business, Recker Transfer were an integral part of our Ice Capades family when they first made contact with John H. Harris, the original owner of Ice Capades from when it first opened in the 40’s and had been transporting us until 1996. While we slept on a train, bus or airplane, Bob directed the transition from rail travel to over the road movement of ice show equipment. He coordinated schedules and directed personnel in productions in “Ice Capades” which also toured sixteen cities in Japan. His team were sometimes driving all night to get our show to the next city by morning as it would take all day to set up the show so we could open that night.
Recker Inc. didn’t just move our shows. They have been an integral part of the Pittsburgh landscape for many years, and had transported theatrical and sporting equipment which included the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Public Theater. They transported renowned productions such as ‘The Sound of Music’, “My Fair Lady”, as well as sports equipment for the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers Football team and Major League Baseball teams when they came to Pittsburgh for games.
Bob was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, received a degree in communication, business organization & computer. In 1965, he served his country in the US Army and was discharged honorably. He then became a sales representative for many years. He grew up around sports – starting out as the bat boy for the Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball Club.
Bob’s current passion is researching and updating the history of professional ice shows and arena entertainment. He has met with and interviewed prominent artists, leading managerial personnel and behind the scenes contributors to the industry.
If you would like to say hi to Bob, his email address is email@example.com
Bonnie Atwood – Ice Capades National Company 1966
I was thrilled when The Blade asked me to write a little something for the “where are they now” feature in The Blade. Why? Because I am a writer! But first, let me tell you how I got from the show to where I am now.
I auditioned for the show in my hometown of Washington, D.C., in 1966 when I was 19. I was so happy to be hired! I had wanted this since my mother took me to see my first show when I was just 8. I was infatuated with the wonderful Donna Atwood—no relation to me. I had never even skated before, but I just “knew” it was going to happen.
I joined the National Company in Atlantic City. I was number 29, a “short girl” in the chorus line. Most of us were quickly given nicknames, and I, being a shy little Southern girl, was dubbed “Bonnie Belle.” I loved the adventure. I don’t think there was just one fondest memory, but I guess I’ll relate how thrilling it was to skate in Shea Stadium. It was an outdoor show, and I remember the temperature was comfortable. I felt a slight breeze, which was so strange because that was missing from our indoor shows. The ice was slightly soft, but, as show people, we shouldered on. The crowd was so big! I think it set a record for us.
I now live in Richmond, Virginia, just two hours south of D.C. I live with my wonderful son, Joe, who is the light of my life. I pursued a writing career pretty soon after I left my one year in the show. I finished college and went to work for a daily newspaper. What fun that was!
I’m now in business for myself: Tall Poppies Consulting LLC. I do writing and lobbying. Please check out my Linkedin page.
When I was in the show, of course, we did not have email. I exchanged letters with some of my friends for a few years, but then we scattered and lost track of each other. Sometime in the 1990s, I thought I should try to reach some of the girls. I figured I could never find them, but I’d give it a try. One of my good friends had been Hillary Hutson. We used to call her “Huck.” I thought a while, and I remembered meeting her mother in Denver, and that her mother’s name was Doris. What the heck, I looked up Doris on the “superpages” site, and there was one Doris Hutson in Denver, with a phone number. It would not be her, I thought, but I dialed the number. Boom! Hillary answered ON THE FIRST RING! It was as though no time had passed. She was caring for her elderly mother, and I was caring for mine. It was wonderful being in touch with her again.
A few years later she called me and told me about the reunion coming up. I will never forget her words: WE HAVE TO GO. We did go, and it was great. And we went again last summer.
Hillary and I had another very special reunion just this fall. I went to a writers’ conference in Wichita, Kansas, because I was nominated for a big writing award. Hillary flew down and joined me there! I was runner up for the award, and Hillary and I shared that great award ceremony.
To read the press release on Bonnie’s prestigious award, click here.
I miss you all. I love you all. We were the Greatest Show on Ice!
If you would like to get in touch with Bonnie – BonAtwood@verizon.net
Which shows were you with and what did you end up doing once you hung up your skates?
I was in East company chorus in 1972-75; West company in 76. Holiday & Scallon’s Ice Parade in Europe in 77; and then back to East Company that year, when Ice Parade folded. I was Line Captain in Holiday/performance director in Ice Parade; then back in the chorus for Capades.
In 78, I lived in San Francisco for a while, and then went to Ashton-Kochman”s Las Vegas on Ice in 79. I was Performance Director there, and was in Japan and Korea. I then retired and moved to Springfield. I missed Capades for about 10 years; but it helped that I was doing my own amateur ice shows, which I’ve continued all these years. Ice Capades was always my favorite show. In fact, I started skating after I saw a Capades performance in Evansville, Indiana, where I was a kid. I always wanted to be in it; and it’s what I did right after I finished college (as a theater major).
Where do you live now?
I have been in Springfield for 37 years, teaching skating. I still live by myself; but I have students. Surprisingly, I really found out I liked kids a lot. My competitive and test skating was done mostly in Troy, and Bowling Green, Ohio, with Dave and Rita Lowery. He died a couple of years ago, but I got to see both of them right before that. Mrs. Lowery just died a month or so ago, so, that was my last tie with that part of my Past.
What are you doing here?
This picture is me playing a chorus boy (at age 67) in an outdoor Summer theater in Springfield, Illinois, where I now live. The show was ‘Nice Work if You Can Get It’, a Gershwin compilation musical. We had a horrible quick change in first half; and a tap number that I never really got. It was fun, but the rest of the chorus was 15-22, so I felt OLD. I can still kick my legs though, though I was sweating to beat the band. Hated the costumes; but it was a pretty good show. I hadn’t been in a musical for 27 years!
If anyone would like to get hold of me, my email is: bema116@Yahoo.com. Hope you are all still kicking your legs, too. Mark
Continental 90/91, West 92/93, Disney on Ice (Aladdin) 93-59
Why did you want to join Ice Capades and what is your fondest memory?
I always wanted to be a professional Ice Skater/ Show girl. I had an amazing couple of coaches, one being Beth Puzes who was this beautiful graceful woman who I just wanted to be. I started auditioning from the time I was 15 until I was able to go and when I was 17 I graduated high school and left for the show.
My greatest memories are how the show was just like a family. They were always there in best and worst of times. Travel days stand out greatly to me and the anticipation of the next city is not explainable.
Where do you live now? I am currently in Las Vegas with my husband and beautiful daughter who is 8 years old.
I became the General Manager of Eiffel Tower Restaurant and have been here for 16 years. Make sure the next time you are in Las Vegas to visit Sharon and enjoy the ambience, fantastic food and iconic view of the Bellagio Fountains. eiffeltowerrestaurant.com
You can contact Sharon at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Wood – World Champion 1969-70
After spending two seasons with East Company (1970-72) where did your career take you from there?
Ice Follies Las Vegas Style (1973) show at Caesars’s Palace – 2 times – first with Joey Heatherton and Anthony Newly, 2nd time with Dianna Ross during Lady Sings the Blues while Mohammed Ali was boxing in the Circus Maximus room, our show at night, followed by two seasons with Holiday on Ice America (‘74-’75). I then produced and raised all the funds for my own show “America on Ice” sold it to Knotts Berry Farm the summer of 1976 – a Bicentennial Ice Celebration, designed, developed, financed, choreographed and starred in. Then left the entertainment show business and went back to school to acquire a master’s degree in Finance, Accounting and Economics.
What is your fondest Ice Capades memory?
My fondest memory was the great fun we had on the road with some really great skating stars, Tommy & Glenda Litz, Hans Leiter, Wolfgang Danne & Margot Glockshuber (I was in Olympics with them)
Where do you live and what are you doing now?
I live in Camarillo, California just outside and north of Los Angeles, just south of Santa Barbara in Ventura County, CA. I live with my wife, Kathleen (aka Taffy or Kate) whom I married before I went into the show in 1970…. We just had our 46th wedding anniversary. We have 3 little dogs (no kids except in the extended family) and we live on a small farm we call “MillWood Farms and proposed spa… haven’t built that yet, smile) ” Taf’s maiden name was Miller, hence the name.
When I left the ice show business, I went back to school and went into the finance world; ended up doing 7 years of international finance with an office in Geneve, Switzerland… lot’s of corporate finance and then large project real estate finance. Currently working on the development of an Olympics sports, arts and academic real estate project in my home town.
If you would like to get in touch with Tim – Timwood@TheSportsResort.com* * * * *
Jan O’Brien Coopman
A Barrington, IL (NW Chicago) native, I began skating when in junior high and later auditioned for Ice Capades under the coaching of the late National and World competitor Fran Dorsey in Northbrook. At home, I vividly recall poring over a show program and wanting to join. Actually, I was determined! Hard work, practicing various stops, and “emoting” on the ice to music led to my Chicago Stadium audition, watched by Richard Dwyer.
A special first job, indeed
In 1980, after my first year at a local college and less than a week after my parents moved from Barrington to Omaha, I left for Ice Capades West Co. in Atlantic City to rehearse for the line. Initially excited but homesick, I then loved it during the first traveling city of Dallas (also where I first discovered a laundromat!)
During East Co. rehearsals, we tall girls had so much fun that costumes were altered to add us to “American Pie.” Also recall that Scot’s off-ice dance classes killed my abs – couldn’t wait to get back on the ice! NYC was memorable, enjoying 42nd Street and Dream Girls on Broadway… and eye-opening when seeing many homeless women sleeping in a Penn Station restroom following our show at Madison Square Garden.
Everyone has a story – unpacking my new journeys
After year two, I returned to college and completed my B.B.A. at the University of Iowa. Ice Capades gave this business major courage to audition and be accepted among dance majors to perform in two Gene Kelly tribute shows when he was a visiting lecturer (more joy than calculus). Gene revealed having a nasty cold during his most famous Singin’ in the Rain scene – the show must go on, you know.
Six years ago for his job, my husband, two sons (now ages 22 and 20 ½), and I moved from our boys’ lifelong Wheaton, IL (where I was mostly an at-home mom) to the Dallas area – and to my last, yet somewhat daunting, post-skating retirement stint at the Dallas Galleria rink. In 2016, Rob and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary. I’m now into year eleven of MS that derailed my beloved skating (no meds but plenty of anecdotes).
Passion then transformed into content writing and swimming. Always motivated by music and with prior practice in the pool, I enjoyed participating during the Diamond Jubilee street dance. Not with my usual legs and form or up front, but there (huge in very hot LV) – and most grateful for the various help of caring friends.
My road to perspective
I have forgiven those who had teased by saying that I came (albeit less than one week) from “where the corn grows.” Interestingly, Omaha is now part of “Silicon Prairie” – a LinkedIn rep there recently asked me to write a blog – bio photo taken by dear friend Margaret Trenkler Ramponi at the Griffith Observatory; includes a reference to Richard Dwyer.
Back in Ice Capades, I always felt that giving one’s all was important, even if for an audience of one (thankfully more attended). Life itself involves hard work of all sorts; I place high value on faith, hope, perseverance, and making some type of positive impact in my journey, however large or seemingly small.
My two newer skating books display many fond memories of performing, traveling, costumes, skiing, and people such as Nixon backstage, but the best and most enduring memories involve lifelong friends – you know who you are! If you would like to contact Jan: email@example.com