Bercovich, Harry "Scotty"
Salesman, Theatre Manager and Owner 1892-1959
Harry Bercovich owned or operated many of Regina's movie theatres in his almost 40 years in the business.
Harry Bercovich was born in 1892. He did not come to Saskatchewan until 1900, when his parents moved to the Lipton area to homestead. Bercovich's life in show business started in 1917 when he quit his job as a travelling gramophone and record salesman in order to take a job working as a manager of a travelling road show with the Allen theatre organization of Edmonton. That brush with the exciting world of show biz led Bercovich to his life's calling: running movie theatres. Within a year, Bercovich was managing the Monarch and Allen theatres in Moose Jaw.
In 1919, Bercovich made the move to Regina, where he simultaneously managed the Allen, Rex and Rose Theatres. The Allen Theatre opened in 1918 and closed in 1923. It reopened as the Metropolitan. Once "talkies" arrived, the Allen became part of the Famous Players theatre chain and Bercovich's association with it ended. The Rex Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1938. A year later, it reopened, but the lease soon ran out and Bercovich's association with the Rex ended. The Rose Theatre closed in 1929 to make way for the Broder Building (also known as the Medical and Dental Building), ending Bercovich's association with it.
It was in 1929 that Bercovich decided to open his own theatre. This was the Broadway Theatre, Regina's first "all-talkie" movie theatre. The Broadway was located on the 1700 block of Broad Street, between South Railway and 11th Avenue. It was a marvel of a theatre. The building itself was designed to look like a Spanish villa, with windows and balconies that overlooked the auditorium. The theatre was an instant hit when it opened on New Year's Day 1930.
Unfortunately, this was at the start of the Great Depression. Times were tough and incomes were greatly curtailed. Businesses of all kinds suffered economic downturns. The Broadway Theatre, which had opened to such great fanfare, closed in 1931 and remained closed until 1941.
This was not a failure on Bercovich's part, however. He seems to have struck a deal with the Famous Players chain to keep his theatre closed during the tough years. In the meantime, Bercovich managed the Rex Theatre and made use of his canny entrepreneurial skills to attract business even in the midst of the Depression. He held "Bank Nights" weekly at the Rex, giving away door prizes to attract business. He gave away silverware and dishes as well, patrons having to return each week in order to collect the complete set of dishes or silverware. Bercovich's techniques proved successful, as the Rex Theatre was able to keep operating until the 1938 fire shut it down temporarily. When Bercovich's deal with Famous Players ran out at the end of the Depression he reopened the Broadway Theatre. Bercovich ran the Broadway Theatre until the 1950s when he retired. The theatre was sold to the Famous Players chain in 1969 and it closed permanently in 1981.
Bercovich was a prominent member of the Jewish community and was very active in many groups and organizations, including Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Club, Knights of Pythias, the Masons and the Elks. He was known as "Scotty" because he organized the annual Scotchmans' Day Robbie Burns program at the Kiwanis club.
Bercovich died in 1959 at the age of 67. Harry Bercovich's contributions to the City of Regina were recognized when a street, Bercovich Crescent, was named after him.