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Hugh Pickett was born in Vancouver on April 11th, 1913 to Mr. and Mrs. Fred J. Pickett. He was raised in Vancouver, mainly growing up in Marpole and later in Kerrisdale, where he lived for most of his life.
Pickett was hired as an usher at the Colonial Theatre in 1928, through an introduction by Pat Prowd. He worked there from ages 15 to 18. In the early 1930's he started working for Dingwall Cotts Steamship Co., where his father was the manager, until approximately 1939.
In 1939 Pickett received a ticket for a trip around the world on an ocean liner through his father’s company. He traveled the world for 14 months and then returned to Vancouver. Pickett was drafted on August 6th 1942. This didn’t curb his love for the arts; he was invited to attend the 1942 Academy Awards, where he appeared in his army uniform. He served in the Canadian Army until 1945. During the war he worked as the secretary to Brigadier Langdon in charge of the Pacific command under General Pearks. He worked out of an office in the old Vancouver Hotel for four years.
Post-war, Pickett began working as a press agent for Hilker Attractions in . In 1950 Gordon Hilker left the business to move east and Hugh Pickett along with Holly Maxwell (the assistant to Gordon Hilker before running Famous Artists with Hugh) took over the company and re-named it Famous Artists Ltd. Pickett was Company Manager from 1947 until 1964. Famous Artists Ltd. was “an artistic management enterprise dedicated to sponsoring appearances by artists and by ballet and theatre companies in Vancouver and Victoria.”
During this time Pickett became heavily involved with Theatre Under the Stars and was the manager from 1952 until 1954. He acted as the manager for Marlene Dietrich for 12 years in the 1960’s and 70’s. Over the years Pickett brought hundreds of famous actors, musicians and performers to Vancouver and secured Vancouver’s spot on many international tours. He also was a leader in the campaign to save the Orpheum Theatre in the 1970’s.
Pickett sold Famous Artists Ltd. to Jerry Lonn in Seattle in the mid 1980’s. After selling Famous Artists Ltd. Pickett wrote a weekly column in The West Ender, was a regular on CKNW radio and worked with the Vancouver Youth Theatre and the Arts Club Theatre. Pickett was awarded the Order of Canada on December 29, 1986 for his involvement with Theatre Under the Stars and work developing Vancouver’s cultural and artistic community.
Hugh Pickett died in Vancouver on February 13th, 2006.