Oklahoma Kid: Dreaming in the Dustbowl
As a kid growing up in Oklahoma in the 1940s I was excited by the joy and spectacle of all the glorious Technicolor movie musicals of that era. I couldn’t wait to see the newest film with Gene Kelly’s exhuberant dancing, Esther Williams in a lavish swimming extravaganza, or Carmen Miranda’s wild and wacky costumes.
Surprisingly, the one that changed my life was in stark black and white—an unforgettable scene of ice skaters in gleaming white costumes magically gliding, swirling, and dancing around the great star Sonja Henie, all stunningly reflected in a stage of mirror-like black ice. Awestruck, I knew right then that skating in an ice show was something I had to do.
I began collecting magazine and newspaper articles about ice shows and wrote to skating stars for autographed photos. Luckily there was a lot to collect. Theatrical skating was entering a golden age sparked by the enormous popularity of Sonja Henie’s films and personal appearances in her own touring “Hollywood Ice Revue” plus the many other shows, large and small, that were being created to satisfy a growing wartime audience suddenly eager for the beauty, thrills, comedy, and spectacle of entertainment on ice.
“I knew right then that skating in an ice show was something I had to do.”— Roy Blakey
For over seventy years—fifteen of which were happily spent performing around the world in ice shows—my still-growing collection has developed into The IceStage Archive, dedicated to preserving the world-wide history of theatrical skating.
This site is home to some of the highlights of that fascinating story, illustrated with rare treasures from the IceStage Archive collection. I hope you will enjoy it—and perhaps learn something new about this former winter sport that became an amazing art form / show-biz phenomenon and shattered all previous attendance records for live entertainment.