Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies

20th Anniversery Ice Follies 1956
20th Anniversery Ice Follies 1956. Photo Courtesy of Eddie Shipstad Jr.

Ice Follies was the very first original traveling ice show. The show has a rich history. It was founded by Eddie Shipstad, Roy Shipstad, and Oscar Johnson. The first performance was in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 7, 1936.

Ice Follies featured big production numbers. The show combined large casts of figure skaters with theater. It included colorful lights, dazzling costumes, and wonderful musical scores and choreography.

More About the Founders of Ice Follies

When the Shipstad brothers and Oscar Johnson were boys, they ice skated for fun. Each weekend, they'd put together acts to perform on outdoor lakes in Minnesota. They enjoyed performing so much that eventually they were asked to do their skating acts on a professional basis. Then, they were asked to put together a complete variety ice show. Eventually, they made plans to take the ice show on the road. The show included chorus girls, soloists, production numbers, and elaborate props. Ice Follies is no longer in existence today, but the ice show did give figure skaters a model for today's ice shows.

Ice Follies Changed Figure Skating

Ice Follies achieved record-breaking success from 1936 to 1979. Those successes set the ice skating show apart from other forms of entertainment. When the show first came into being, it was apparent that a new form of entertainment had been created. That new creation revolutionized figure skating.

Ice Skating Variety Show That Included a Large Chorus

Ice Follies was an ice skating variety show. Audiences loved this form of entertainment. The show also featured a chorus line called THE ICE FOLLIETTES. Synchronized figure skating came out of that idea. The chorus was famous for performing a kick line and a pinwheel on the ice with complete precision.

Changing Times

In the 1990s the big production number ice shows were replaced with ice shows that featured figure skating superstars. Today's "Champions on Ice" and "Stars on Ice" represent those changing times.

Ice Follies Became Disney on Ice

In 1980, Ice Follies and Holiday on Ice were combined. Feld Entertainment had bought both shows and combined them. They realized that young audiences needed to be drawn to see the ice show, so they began Disney On Ice in 1981. May top skaters starred in the Disney show. Disney On Ice continues to be a very popular ice show.

More About Eddie, Roy, and Oscar Shipstad

In the early 1920s, Eddie and Roy Shipstad, and Oscar Johnson taught themselves to skate.

The rink owners of nearby arenas took an interest in all three of the boys and they did get some help with their skating. In those days, people skated for fun.

Eddie and Oscar loved to perform stunts on the ice and entertain crowds. They eventually formed a partnership. They created two comedy acts which were performed at first on lakes and eventually between periods of hockey games.

Roy Shipstad was a very talented skater. After winning some amateur titles, he teamed up with Eddie and Oscar. The first show they produced was a charity benefit performance. That performance led to the creation of Shipstad's and Johnson's Ice Follies.