Brian Croft is an artist who loves the heritage of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The former RCAF jet pilot and pilot for CP Air and Air Canada has spent his time since retirement painting. This is Vancouver’s 125th anniversary as a city and I felt it fitting that we feature some of Brian’s amazing concepts of various parts of Vancouver over the decades.
Brian is a stickler for detail and you notice it in each painting. I greatly admired his painting of the former Aristocratic restaurant at the corner of 12th and Cambie (now a White Spot). He brought a print of the painting into my office and presented it to me as a gift, pointing out me in my 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 in the background in the drive-in parking lot.
He has been working on a painting of the original Capitol Theatre, which was at the corner of Robson and Granville for decades before morphing into the Capitol 6 Theatres and then into a high rise apartment block. Brian has captured the feeling of the first Elvis movie to ever play this town at the Capitol in November 1956. It was my duty to act as host for the movie and I went on stage to talk about the movie, Elvis and rock and roll. Theatre manager Charlie Doctor came up with a promotional idea inviting anyone named Presley to be his guest for the opening show. A dozen Presleys showed up!
It was a most interesting time as Elvis hit the big screen. You should have heard the young ladies crying when Elvis’ character was killed at the end of the movie. Love Me Tender was not a great movie (its original title was The Reno Brothers), but it didn’t matter to the sold out theatre crowd for the movie debut of the King of Rock and Roll.
Brian’s painting displays the city back in those days and all the merchants along what was known as Theatre Row. It is interesting that my star in STARWALK sits in concrete only feet from the place where the Capitol Theatre once stood. Thanks for involving me in your wonderful, creative pieces of art, Brian!