Expect theatres across town to observe moments of silence today for the man who had a huge influence on the city's, and country's, culture.
At the Edwardian Royal Alexandra Theatre (which he purchased in 1962 and lavishly restored), Ed Mirvish presented touring productions of Broadway and West End hits. Later, run by Ed and his son David, the Royal Alex and the Princess of Wales Theatre (built in 1993) housed long-running mega-musicals like Les Miserables, The Lion King, and Mamma Mia!
Whether fans of those shows or not, everyone has fond memories of attending them, admiring the buildings themselves and maybe getting a bite to eat at one of Mirvish's nearby restaurants.
Coincidentally, many shows that began at the Fringe (The Drowsy Chaperone, Da Kink In My Hair) were eventually picked up by the Mirvishes. They also produced and showed stunning productions of classic Canadian plays, like 2Pianos, 4Hands, The Drawer Boy and The Adventures Of A Black Girl In Search Of God.
My fondest memory of Ed Mirvish, besides seeing him hand out free stuff in Mirvish Village to celebrate his birthdays, was during a post-opening night party for some musical - I forget which. I was reviewing the show, probably one of my first assignments.
Celebrities were swirling around eating and drinking. Pictures were being taken. Mirvish, alone, walked up to me, an unknown.
"Were you in the show as one of the dancers?" he asked me. "No I was just in the audience," I said. "Well," he said, unfazed, "they were very good weren't they?" "Yes, sir."
The theatre scene will not be the same without his vision, spirit and generosity.
Press release from Mirvish Productions below:
Edwin Mirvish Dies at Age 92
The Mirvish Family regrets to announce the passing of Edwin Mirvish on July 11, 2007 in the early hours of the morning at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. Born July 24, 1914, he was only a few weeks away from reaching his 93rd birthday.
An entrepreneur, theatrical impresario and producer, Mr. Mirvish was known as “Honest Ed,” also the name of his world-famous discount emporium at Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto. He entered the theatrical business when he purchased and saved from demolition the stately Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto in 1963. Lavishly restoring the legendary venue, he began producing shows and soon became a major force in the theatre. He also bought and restored the Old Vic in London, England, and with his son, David Mirvish, built the award-winning Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto in 1993.
Mr. Mirvish was a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of more than 250 awards.
Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.
ADDITION: This just announced:
A funeral service for Edwin Mirvish will take place at Beth Tzedec Synagogue located at 1700 Bathurst Street, south of Eglinton Avenue, on Friday, July 13, 2007 at 11:00 a.m.
A strictly private family Shiva will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ed Mirvish Educational Memorial Fund c/o The Benjamin Foundation located at 3429 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON, M6A 2C3, phone: 416-780-0324. The purpose of the fund is to support up and coming entrepreneurs.