Photo © Ian Coristine/
 You are here:  Back Issues      Archive

R. B. ‘Ratch’ Wallace: ‘Captain Hollywood’

An unforgettable Presence on Stage and Afloat

Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Murray Latham
Comment by: Murray Latham ( )
Left at: 10:39 PM Monday, November 14, 2011
My condolences on the loss of your friend Brian. You've honoured him very well with this piece.

1 Long 2 Short,
Bob Graham
Comment by: Bob Graham ( )
Left at: 8:23 AM Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Brian, that was so well done. Very moving. A most eloquent tribute.

___________ . .

Tom King
Comment by: Tom King ( )
Left at: 4:27 PM Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This is a beautifully written article and a very touching tribute to someone who obviously was a very close friend.

My condolences on your loss.

Kim Lunman
Comment by: Kim Lunman ( )
Left at: 10:07 AM Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What a touching tribute to your friend and fellow Captain. My condolences on your loss.

What readers might not know is Capt. Brian Johnson took over the wheelhouse of the Empress for its return to Kingston after the tragic loss of Capt. Ratch B. Wallace.

I was aboard the Empress for the Thousand Islands portion of its cruise that day. The solemn sail by on its return to Kingston's Harbour was a testament to Capt. Johnson, Canadian Empress owner Bob Clark and the crew who handled the tragic loss of their captain with grace and dignity. Passengers aboard the ship were moved by the floatilla, a fitting farewell for "Captain Hollywood."
Sheldon Chad
Comment by: Sheldon Chad ( )
Left at: 6:03 PM Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Thank you, Brian. Ratch was a good man, which made him one of the best.
Brian Johnson
Comment by: Brian Johnson ( )
Left at: 8:39 AM Thursday, November 17, 2011
Thank you, one and all, for your very kind comments.
It was rare that Ratch and I were able to actually 'sit together' as we were on opposite trips all the time and with other schedules.
But... every time, it really was a pleasure!
This little tale only scratches the surface of his very eventful and colourful life!
Imagine... sitting nearby while he and novelist Sterling Hayden were 'carrying on'!!!
brian j
Mercedes Calvert
Comment by: Mercedes Calvert ( )
Left at: 4:15 PM Friday, November 18, 2011
Thank you, for such a beautiful article about my Dad. I have shared the article with many people, through Facebook and emails, and everyone has commented on how lovely the article was, and how those who didn't know him well, know him a little better now. My family and I are so grateful for everything that the Canadian Empress crew has done for Dad, throughout the years and after his death.
With much love, Mercedes
Roy Surette
Comment by: Roy Surette ( )
Left at: 3:01 AM Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I met Ratch through his lovely daughter Kate when we worked together at The Belfry Theatre. Ratch was always a most gracious supporter of our shows. He had a discerning eye, knew his stuff but was always warm, generous and encouraging. A real gentleman!
Comment by: JOAN BRYAN
Left at: 7:21 PM Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I just read this beautiful tribute to Ratch Wallace and wanted to pay my respects. He was a beautiful man - in fact, the day I met him back in 1966, I thought he was one the most physically beautiful men I have ever seen. I was an actress back then and involved with David Secter's "The Offering". David was holding auditions in my apartment on Avenue Road and when Ratch arrived he filled the room with his loud and joyous presence. We became great friends and during those happy halcyon days we drank in the old "Pilot" pub, auditioning for CBC and dreamt of being stars. I remember his trying to make the film of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (I still have a copy of the movie script)
We lost touch when he took off to become a different kind of star as captain of a ship.

Bon Voyage my old friend - I know you are filling a room somewhere up there now. JOAN BRYAN