Smurfs on Ice! 15 Ridiculous Photos From '70s and '80s Ice Shows
A big ol' stack of ice show programs
Date: 1970 - 1983
Discovered at: Half Price Books, Berkeley
The thing that's wrong with America is that I have to tell you that the photo to the right is of Dave Pitts and Spanky, certainly the highlights of the 1970 Ice Capades.
We should all just know that.
Marvel at Spanky's showbiz heart: that leg cocked up at 120 degrees; that smile, as fresh and gleaming as a bank of new urinals, spread so wide across that coconut face that it must have dazzled even the kids in the cheapest seats of whatever local hockey rink he (or she) was booked into that night. And then there's Dave Pitts, not beaming so badly himself, his nose dabbed red, his whiskers each a silver chem trail, and his pants some kind of bunny-fur jodhpurs.
Look at them long enough, and you might for just a moment feel the brush of another America, one before spectacle became digital and unspectacular, before all kids' entertainment starred licensed characters segregated into good guys and bad guys - before it seemed strange to haul the kids to the rink to watch a grown man bunny-up and skate about with a chimp dressed as Alice in Wonderland (with a dash of Colonel Sanders.)
The following photos trace the end of that America. Between the 1970s and the '80s, the traveling ice-show started to slump: smaller casts, fewer trucks, less dada glory like Dave and Spanky and much more mass-culture carpetbaggers like the Smurfs. (More on them soon.)
These images are funny, and I've added some jokes. But don't mistake this post for anything other than what it is: A lament for the hundreds of millions of us who can name even the backbench Hanna Barbara characters on ice below -- but never got the chance to see Dave Pitts and Spanky.
First up: From the Ice Follies of 1979, here's Julie Taymore's first crack at Spider-Man:
Describing this next act, the producers write, "Space shuttles transport you to the land of lunar caves and galactic magic. Welcome to the Crystal Galaxy!"
Years ago, that would have seemed like a cheesy George Lucas knockoff. After that last Indiana Jones thing, however, it seems like Lucasfilm R&D.
We move now to 1980's Holiday on Ice. This was a different time, one when men felt no compunction about using women as metal detectors.
This theme for that Holiday on Ice seems to have been "Giant Hoagie Sandwich."
Production numbers of that scope and insanity shrunk as the 1980s dawned. Back in '78, though, the folks at the Ice Capades still made with the mad lavishness, as this scene of the Flintstones hogtied by a phalanx of antebellum shepherdesses and their pink furries, all for the pleasure of smiling eggs with arms emerging from their earholes:
Meanwhile, Yogi Bear says to Scooby Doo, "Hey, man, the lady said 'no.'"
Also, the thing most often overheard after the '78 Ice Capades: "The skating was good, but did you see the way those eggs sat?"
Next: Keystone Kops, the reproductive system, and Smurfs