TORONTO, July 11 (UPI) -- Canadian theater entrepreneur, philanthropist and retailer "Honest" Ed Mirvish died in a Toronto hospital of natural causes Wednesday at the age of 92.
Mirvish was born in Colonial Beach, Va., on July 24, 1914, and the family moved to Toronto nine years later. In 1929, his father died and Mirvish left school to support the family at their grocery store, the Globe and Mail reported.
In 1948, he and his wife Anne opened a garish discount emporium that featured hundreds of flashing lights and handwritten signs. The business flourished to the point where Mirvish began giving away 1,000 free Christmas turkeys and cakes to customers each year.
His foray into entertainment began in 1962 when he purchased the condemned Royal Alexandra Theater, built in 1907. He spent $500,000 refurbishing it to regal splendor and built a major entertainment company over the years.
His philanthropy led to him being named Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of more than 250 awards, the newspaper said.
He is survived by his wife and son David, who oversees Mirvish Productions.