move by the IOC shattered any Olympic dreams that 17-year-old Mary Bovee may have held, after winning her Pacific Northwest Junior Figure Skating Championship. Instead, she turned pro. She accepted a second offer to join the famed Ice Capades.
Two days after graduating from Jefferson High School in the late spring of 1943, she said good-bye to her parents and boarded a night train in Portland, headed down the coast to California. She was bound for L.A. and future stardom on ice.
The show rehearsed in Los Angeles during part of the summer. Then, the cast with mountains of luggage, props and scenery were crammed on to a slow, five-day train enroute to New York City for the grand opening night performance in Madison Square Garden.
It was a smash success.
At the end of a sold-out, three-week date at The Garden, Ice Capades went on the road. By the time the show played Montreal, young Mary Bovee had been pulled from the line and given a featured skating solo on top of her contract role as understudy to Donna Atwood. (A former U.S. national champion, Atwood was the show’s featured star. Ice Capades owner John Harris ardently pursued her that year, too. Eventually, they married.)
Such was the beginning of Mary Bovee’s 21-city, coast to coast Ice Capades tour in 1943. It was a whirlwind life of early morning rehearsals, nightly performances, two shows on Saturdays and Sundays, sell-out crowds, media interviews, photo sessions, catch up meals in late night restaurants, crowded hotels, rattling old trains, and a little daytime sight-seeing—along with extra help in the war effort.
In every city on the tour, the girls were booked for war bond drives, hospital visits with service men, blood bank donations, rolling bandages at local clubs for the Red Cross, knitting socks for overseas, and entertaining- the troops at USO centers.
That was show business—1943.
In the swamps and palmetto trees somewhere east of Jacksonville, the Navy created a mock-up of a carrier flight deck on a landing strip, complete with cables and markings. My log book shows that during eight weeks of training in Florida, I made 35 two-a-day flights to that isolated strip and completed 150 simulated carrier landings and take-offs. Call that thorough training? Maybe so. At the time, I thought it was overkill. After