Lela Bogardus remembers her role with early Ice Capades


U.S. Qualifying season is underway!
I thought this was a cool story in the (Arizona) Daily Independent by Bill Brown:

Acrobatic lessons were not the only balance and coordination activity Ms. Bogardus participated in. At the age of 12 1/2, she began ice skating. From October through March, the Tulsa Figure Skating Club had the use of the Coliseum in Tulsa. The floor was covered with ice and they would hire a professional skater to assist during the winter months.
"For the first hour, we would skate figures.‘ Then the rest of the time was split between free skating and ice dancing." Ms. Bogardus said. "I think there was only two times a year that the ice outside was frozen thick enough to skate on."
Ms. Bogardus continued in high school for one year, but with her parents‘ blessing she joined her sister and the Ice Capades tour at the age of 16-1/2. However, she didn‘t give up on her school work and received her high school diploma through correspondence course work.
Her most memorable nights were her several trips to Los Angeles. They would reserve the front row around the rink in the Pan Pacific Auditorium for celebrities, actresses and actors. There was a young man by the name of Art Gelien, who was a very good skater, but not part of the Ice Capades. Ms. Lela Bogardus says.
"He would hang out with us while we were in L.A. You won‘t remember him as Art Gelien as he later changed his name to Tab Hunter, the American actor, singer, film producer and author," she said.
Ms. Bogardus admits she learned many valuable lessons in the five years she was part of the tour.
"The fact that I was self-supporting at such a young age gave me a great feeling of independence and helped shape me into becoming a free spirit," she said.
She also admits it wasn‘t always a bed of roses.
"The tours were a grueling 11 months long and we traveled by train. I didn‘t like the constant packing and unpacking," she said.
There were approximately 80 performers on the tour and they had some parties while on the road.
I asked Lela if she ever had the inspiration to become a competitive ice skater with aspirations to making the U.S. Olympic Team. She kind of laughed and said, "Those kids start skating about the same time that they start walking. They all have professional coaching from the time they put on their first pair of skates. I didn‘t start until I was 12-1/2 so I didn‘t have a chance."
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