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"LAF" 2003 Obituary


LAFAIVRE o@ca.on.manitoulin.howland.little_current.manitoulin_expositor 2003-07-02 published
Robert Thomas COULTER
In loving memory of Robert Thomas COULTER who passed away Sunday Morning, June 29th ,2003 at the Sudbury Regional Hospital - Memorial Site at the age of 59 years.
Beloved husband of Lenna (CASEY) COULTER predeceased 1999. Cherished son of Lloyd and Elsie COULTER predeceased. Loving brother of Ernest (wife Marilyn) COULTER of Parry Sound, Mary FRASER (husband Don predeceased) of Falconbridge. Dear brother-in-law of Joan LAFAIVRE (husband Len) of Haileybury. Sadly missed by loving nieces and nephews and their families. Funeral Service in the R. J. Barnard Chapel, Jackson and Barnard Funeral Home, 233 Larch Street, Sudbury, Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003 at 1 pm. Friends may call after 12 noon on Wednesday. Cremation at the Parklawn Crematorium.
also linked as linked as LEFEBVRE

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LAFFIN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-04-11 published
COX, Reverend Michael T., S.F.M.
Father Michael COX died peacefully, on April 9, 2003, after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. He was the son of the late John Thomas COX and Catherine Anne MacKENZIE of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Born in Glace Bay, Father COX attended St. Anthony's Elementary and Saint Anne's High School, graduating in 1942. He joined the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society in September 1944 and was ordained to the priesthood in December 1950. He was assigned to mission in Japan in the summer of 1951 and worked there for 50 years, serving in various parishes. He returned to Canada in 2001 to retire. Father COX was the last surviving member of his immediate family. He was predeceased by sisters Elizabeth (who died in infancy,) Mary LAFFIN, and Sister Martha MARY, a member of the Sisters of Charity; and by his brothers Joe, Neil, George, and Father William, also a member of Scarboro Missions. Father Cox is survived by his sister-in-law Mrs. Kathleen COX of Glace Bay with whom he resided since January 2003, by several nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews, and by members of his Scarboro Missions community. The Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated Saturday, April 12, at St. Anthony's parish in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. Father Cox will be buried beside his parents at St. Anthony's Parish Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Scarboro Missions or to a charity of your choice.

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LAFLECHE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-13 published
Singer was hit on Hit Parade
Canadian-born performer played violin with Jack Benny and posed as wife of Sid Caesar
By James McCREADY Special to The Globe and Mail Saturday, September 13, 2003 - Page F11
She was called "Canada's First Lady of Song." In the late 1940s, singer Gisele MacKENZIE was so popular on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio that she was known just by her first name.
When she was 23, she headed off to Hollywood, where she became one of the main singers on Your Hit Parade, a popular American network television show in the 1950s. By the time television started in Canada in 1952, she was already a star in the United States, appearing on programs with Jack Benny and later with Sid Caesar, the hottest comedian of his day.
Gisele MacKENZIE, who has died at the age of 76, was not always known by that name. On the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, she was known simply as Gisele, though a 1950 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation press release did call her by her proper name -- Gisele LAFLECHE. As soon as she moved to CBS in 1951, she adopted the stage name Gisele MacKENZIE. The reason, she told a New York reporter in 1955, was that the name Gisele LAFLECHE "sounded too much like a striptease artist's." The real explanation was an American audience would have trouble with so French a name. It was the television network that ordered the name change.
Marie Marguerite Louise Gisele LAFLECHE was born on January 10, 1927, in Winnipeg. The name MacKENZIE was from her paternal grandmother. Her father, Georges, was a doctor, who played the violin, and her mother, Marietta MANSEAU, was a concert pianist and singer as a young woman. Ms. MacKENZIE started playing the violin seriously when she was 7. She made her first public performance at the Royal Alexandra Hotel in Winnipeg at the age of 12.
When she was 14, her family sent her to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She studied the violin and the piano, and planned on being a concert violinist. Later in life, a story circulated that she never took voice lessons, but Jim GUTHRO, who was at the conservatory at the same time, remembered a voice teacher who took an interest in her. He also remembered that she attended at the same time as Robert GOULET and they would sing together.
When she first came to Toronto, she stayed at Rosary Hall, a residence for Catholic girls on Bloor Street at the top of Jarvis Street. Tess MALLOY, who was there at the same time, remembered her. "She lived right across the hall from me. She and her girlfriend used to drive us nuts practising the violin."
Ms. MALLOY didn't remember her singing at the residence, but somewhere along the way someone discovered Ms. MacKENZIE could sing. It was close to the end of the war and she started to perform for groups of servicemen. It was then that she was discovered by musician Bob SHUTTLEWORTH, a lieutenant who led a band for the Royal Canadian Navy.
Right after the war, she started singing with Mr. SHUTTLEWORTH's band at the Glenmount Hotel on the Lake of Bays, north of Toronto. Mr. SHUTTLEWORTH, who later became her manager and her husband, took her to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which then broadcast live popular music over the radio.
"Bob SHUTTLEWORTH called me at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and said, 'Get a studio, a piano and a vocal mike. I have someone I want you to hear,' recalled Jackie RAE, then a music producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, later leader of his own band (and, incidentally, the uncle of former Ontario premier Bob RAE.) "I remember her wonderful voice and how fresh she was. We hired her straight away to do three programs a week."
The program was Meet Gisele, and it ran for 15 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The program started on October 8, 1946, and lasted for four years. She was so popular the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation used her in other programs with names such as The Girl Next Door or The Song Pluggers.
In 1951, Ms. MacKENZIE was spotted by Bing CROSBY's son, and went to work in the United States for Bob CROSBY's Club 15, bumping the Andrews Sisters from their regular slot. The pay was $20,000 (U.S.) a year, worth $150,000 in today's money. She was 23.
The money was something Canada could never match. Mr. GUTHRO, later head of Variety at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, guesses she was making $200 a week for her radio programs.
"Gisele Leaves for Hollywood. Canada's Loss," read a headline in one Toronto paper. The article guessed at the pay package, and it was right.
Ms. MacKENZIE was about to have her best decade ever in show business. After a short stint on Club 15, she worked on the Mario Lanza Show, before landing her full-time job at Your Hit Parade. The idea behind the NBC program was to take the top seven songs on the hit parade that week and have them done by the regular singers in the Your Hit Parade troupe. The half-hour program was a huge success in the United States and in late 1953 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation picked it up for a while.
Ms. MacKENZIE was the only regular singer on the program to have her own hit record, Hard to Get, in 1955.
Though none of her family shared her success, all were musical. There were her parents, both of whom were serious amateur musicians two of her sisters sang and played, and a brother played the cello. Along with Gisele, two of them had what is called perfect pitch.
"It's rare and she had it," Mr. RAE said. "You would play four notes on the piano and she could match them. Perfect pitch isn't always a great thing, but in her case it was."
Ms. MacKENZIE's training as a classical violinist came in handy on the Jack Benny program, on which she first appeared in 1955. The droll comedian always made a thing of how he couldn't play the violin. One vaudeville-type act they would do on his show involved her patiently showing him what to do with a violin after he made some awful screeching noise with his bow.
She was Jack Benny's protégé, and he helped land her own television program in 1958. Called the Gisele MacKENZIE Show, it lasted only six months.
But she remained famous. At one stage, she was the subject of This is Your Life, which involved linking up with old Friends and relatives. She was a regular on game shows that featured minor celebrities, such as Hollywood Squares.
In 1963, she was cast as Sid Caesar's television wife and made regular trips to New York City, where the program was done. Like other television programs of that era, it was live, since videotape was only just being introduced.
Ms. MacKENZIE also acted and sang in live musicals in the United States, things such as Annie Get Your Gun and South Pacific. Over the years, she also worked in Las Vegas, performing in night clubs there. She returned to Canada for the occasional concert and television special, including one on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in late 1960. It was about "her story book career" and included the yarn, always told by her publicists, of how she decided to take up singing after she lost her $3,000 violin.
By the end of the 1960s, the big work started to dry up and Canadian newspapers were running the occasional "Where Are They Now" articles. She was in a sprawling ranch house in suburban Encino, Calif. She also owned property in Palmdale and Marin County, Calif., as well as a house on Lake Manitoba back home.
All that detail came up in a nasty divorce from Mr. SHUTTLEWORTH in 1968. Because he was also her manager, he kept 10 per cent of her gross income for the next three years. She later married a banker, Robert KLEIN, but that also ended in divorce.
During the rest of her career, Ms. MacKENZIE kept working in regional theatre and made guest appearances on television series, including MacGyver and Murder, She Wrote, as well as singing stints on programs such as the Dean Martin Show. She also did television commercials in the United States and Canada.
Ms. MacKENZIE had some odd hobbies. She collected and mixed exotic perfumes and in the 1950s she took up target shooting, becoming an expert shot. She and her first husband had a large collection of pistols, rifles and shotguns. In her later years, like many Hollywood stars, she was involved with Scientology.
Ms. MacKENZIE, who died in Burbank, Calif., on September 5, had two children with Mr. SHUTTLEWORTH, a son Mac and a daughter Gigi (short for Gisele) DOWNS.

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LAFORTUNE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-08-06 published
Linda STEARNS: 1937-2003
As ballet mistress and artistic director of the esteemed Montreal company, she nurtured personality, flair and a risk-taking approach to dance
By Paula CITRON Wednesday, August 6, 2003 - Page R5
In the cutthroat, competitive world of dance, Linda STEARNS was an anomaly. As artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, she never played games or held grudges. Whether good or bad news, she bluntly told her dancers what they had to hear, and in return, her open-door policy allowed them to vent their own feelings. National Ballet of Canada artistic director James KUDELKA, who spent almost a decade as a member of Les Grands Ballets, likens her approach to wearing an invisible raincoat upon which unhappy dancers spewed their venom. At the end of their tirades, she would serenely remove the garment and say, "Now let's talk."
Linda STEARNS died at her home in Toronto on July 4, at age 65.
She was born into privilege on October 22, 1937. Her father, Marshal, was an investment broker; her mother, Helen, was heavily involved in charity work. The family lived in the posh Poplar Plains area of central Toronto, where Ms. STEARNS attended Branksome Hall.
Despite their wealth, the STEARNS children (Linda, Nora and Marshal) were expected to earn their own livings. Helen STEARNS had studied dance in her youth, but a career was never an option. When eldest daughter Linda showed a strong talent, history might have repeated itself had not Marshal Sr. set aside his reservations after seeing his daughter perform.
After graduating from high school, Ms. STEARNS went to London and New York for advanced training. It was the great Alexandra Danilova, one of Ms. STEARNS's New York teachers, who pointed the young dancer in the direction of the upstart Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Ms. STEARNS joined Les Grands in 1961, and was promoted to soloist in 1964. In a Who's Who of Entertainment entry, Ms. STEARNS was once listed as joining the company in 1861, and she liked to joke that, at 103 years, she held the record for the longest time spent in the corps de ballet. In fact, one of Ms. STEARNS's hallmarks was her sense of humour, much of it at her own expense.
Les Grands was known for taking dancers who did not necessarily have perfect ballet bodies, but had personality and flair, a policy Ms. STEARNS continued during her own administration.
Although Ms. STEARNS had very unballetic, low-arched feet, she was a fine classical dancer. She excelled, however, in the dramatic repertoire: Mother Courage in Richard Kuch's The Brood, or the title role in Brydon Paige's Medea. In later years, while teaching and coaching, Ms. STEARNS wore high heels to conceal her hated low arches -- while showing off her attractive ankles.
Her performing career was cut short in 1966 when artistic director Ludmilla CHIRIAEFF recognized that Ms. STEARNS would make a brilliant ballet mistress, and by 1969, Ms. STEARNS was exclusively in the studio. In fact, giving up performing was one of the great disappointments of her life, although she did in time acknowledge that she had found her true destiny. Ms. STEARNS's astonishingly keen eye allowed her to single out, in a corps de ballet of moving bodies, every limb that was out of position. She could also sing every piece of music, which saved a lot of time, because she didn't have to keep putting on the tape recorder. Because of her intense musicality, Ms. STEARNS also insisted that the dancers not just be on the count, but fill every note with movement.
Ms. STEARNS loved playing with words -- she was a crossword-puzzle addict, for example -- and gave the dancers nicknames, whether they liked them or not. Catherine LAFORTUNE was Katrink, Kathy BIEVER was Little Frog, Rosemary NEVILLE was Rosie Posie, Betsy BARON was Boops, and Benjamin HATCHER was Benjamino, to name but a few. One who escaped this fate was Gioconda BARBUTO, simply because Ms. STEARNS loved rolling out the word "G-I-O-C-O-N-D-A" in its full Italian glory. The dancers, in turn, called her Lulubelle, Mme. Gozonga and La Stearnova or, if they were feeling tired, cranky and hostile -- and were out of earshot -- Spoons (for her non-arched feet) and even less flattering names. As reluctantly as she became ballet mistress, Ms. STEARNS became artistic director, first as one of a triumvirate in 1978 with Danny JACKSON and Colin McINTYRE (when Les Grands and Brian MacDONALD came to an abrupt parting of the ways;) then with Jeanne RENAUD in 1985 and finally on her own in 1987. She retired from Les Grands in 1989. Both Mr. JACKSON and Mr. McINTRYE still refer to Ms. STEARNS as the company's backbone.
These were the famous creative years that included the works of Mr. KUDELKA, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, Nacho Duato and George Balanchine. Les Grands toured the world performing one of the most exciting and eclectic repertoires in ballet. It was a company that nurtured dancers and choreographers, many of whom reflected Ms. STEARNS's risk-taking, innovative esthetic.
She also had time to mentor choreographers outside the company, including acclaimed solo artist Margie GILLIS. Her post-Grands career included writing assessments for the Canada Council, setting works on ballet companies, coaching figure skating, and most recently, becoming ballet mistress for the Toronto-based Ballet Jörgen. When she was diagnosed with both ovarian and breast cancer two years ago, she continued her obligations to Ballet Jörgen until she was no longer able, never letting the dancers know how ill she was.
Ms. STEARNS loved huge dogs -- or what Ms. GILLIS refers to as mountains with fur -- and always had at least two. Her gardens were magnificent, as was her cooking. Her generosity was legendary, whether inviting 20 people for Christmas dinner, or hosting the wedding reception for dancers Andrea BOARDMAN and Jean-Hugues ROCHETTE at her tastefully decorated Westmount home. After leaving Montreal, whether, first, at her horse farm in Harrow, Ontario, or at the one-room schoolhouse she lovingly renovated near Campbellville, northwest of Toronto, former colleagues were always welcome.
She continued to keep in touch with her dancers, sending notes in her beautiful, distinctive handwriting. Her love of sports never left her, and after a hard day in the studio, she would relax watching the hockey game. Religion also filled her postdance life, with Toronto's Anglican Grace-Church-on-the-Hill at its epicentre. Ms. STEARNS was very discreet in her private life, although another disappointment is that neither of two long relationships resulted in marriage or children.
Ms. STEARNS was always ruthlessly self-critical, always striving for perfection, never convinced she had rehearsed a work to its full potential. As a result, she never made herself the centre of her own story. Her homes, for example, did not contain photographs glorifying the career of Linda STEARNS. Only at the end of her days, as she faced death with the same grace with which she had faced life, was she finally able to appreciate how many lives she had touched, and accept her outstanding achievements with Les Grands Ballets. Linde HOWE- BECK, former dance critic for the Montreal Gazette, sums up Ms. STEARNS perfectly when she says that she was all about love -- for her Friends and family, for life, but most of all, for dance.
Paula CITRON is dance critic for The Globe and Mail.

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