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"EMP" 2006 Obituary


EMPERATORE  EMPEY  EMPRINGHAM  EMPRY  EMPTAGE 

EMPERATORE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-10-23 published
Gino EMPRY, Agent And Publicist (1925-2006)
Brassy Toronto impresario with a 1,000-name roster of show-biz clients was, deep down, a shy guy with a heart of gold, and a regular churchgoer
By Ron CSILLAG,
Special to The Globe and Mail; Globe and Mail archives, Page S8
Toronto -- He spent one night with Pearl Bailey while the singer talked about the sex life of a pomegranate until 3 a.m.
Marlene Dietrich gave him a wallet with blank cards inside after spying him fishing around in his pockets for something to scribble on. "You must always be chic," she cooed.
Tony Bennett once fixed him with a stare and asked menacingly, "What the hell is that supposed to mean? Are you making fun of me?"
Phyllis Diller once sent him $500 to help pay for a nose job. On the other hand, buxom Jane Russell took one look at that generous schnozz and pronounced it "big enough to fit my cleavage."
Welcome to Gino EMPRY's world.
Talent agent, impresario, boulevardier and flack-turned-friend to dozens -- no darling, make that hundreds -- of stars, Mr. EMPRY was a throwback to an era when Public Relations men such as Irving "Swifty" Lazar bent the ears of such make'em-or-break'em celebrity scribes as Walter Winchell and Hedda Hopper.
For over 40 years, Mr. EMPRY was a show-biz fixture in Toronto, booking the talent at the fabled Imperial Room in the Royal York Hotel, hyping his stable to pretty much anyone who listened, befriending cops, doormen, tough guys and starving artists. Dubbed the father of celebrity publicity in Canada, it's probably no exaggeration to say he rubbed shoulders with every famous name in, well, the Western Hemisphere.
His 1,000-name roster of clients included, at various times, Mr. Bennett, Peggy Lee, Deborah Kerr, Cher, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope, Eartha Kitt, Peter O'Toole and, closer to home, Ronnie Hawkins, William Hutt, Karen Kain, Anne Murray and Roch Voisine. The only person he regretted not having worked with was Clark Gable. "But he's dead," Mr. EMPRY once observed. "Otherwise, I've met all the others."
His forte was the personal touch. "He and I hit it off quite well," recalled Ms. Murray. "He was always so flamboyant and we always had good laughs. He used to say to me, 'when are we gonna have dinner?' And, of course, we never had dinner. But every year he sent me a Christmas card -- every single year since 1971 -- and he handwrote on every one, 'when are we gonna have dinner?' "
It was a God-given gift, he told The Globe and Mail in a 1996 spread. "That's why stars trust me and why they have done things for me that they wouldn't do for other people."
Like the time he talked British singer Petula Clark into taking over a laryngitis-stricken Mr. Bennett's Toronto gig on one day's notice. Or when the Toronto police force "begged" Mr. EMPRY to get Hal Linden, then television's Captain Barney Miller, to appear at one of their bashes. "He said yes to me, and I guess that's partly why I have half the police force as my Friends," Mr. EMPRY recalled with satisfaction. "I just looove policemen."
And they loved him back. At his legendary parties, whether at the Royal York or at his knick-knack-filled, white-carpeted, shagadelic downtown pad, "half the Toronto police was there, and that's one reason he could park anywhere at any time, no questions asked," recalled Mary JOLLIFFE, who served as the Stratford Festival's first communications director. "He never paid a parking ticket -- ever," confirmed Helga STEPHENSON, a Toronto film promoter.
Mr. EMPRY was a character in a character's world. "People tell me, 'Gino, you don't walk into a room, you make an appearance.' " It was a trick he learned from Bernadette Peters. "She told me once, 'Gino, do you know how you get the best table in a restaurant? You walk to the front of the line and look imperious.' "
The look came naturally. The family name was EMPERATORE, from the Italian imperatore, meaning emperor or commander, or, to Mr. EMPRY, of the Caesars. "And my police Friends tell me I am like a Caesar, always ordering people around."
It was an unlikely trait for a pallid, elfin guy, barely 5 feet 6 inches (when not wearing his favourite two-inch heels), a Kim Jong-il-style bouffant 'do, silk ascot, and jewellery -- lots of it, as befitting someone with such distinguished roots. Around his neck was a multicoloured ammolite pendant -- a gift, he said, from Ella Fitzgerald. The heavy gold bracelet was from Tony Bennett, the Mickey Mouse watch from Kay Ballard, the diamond pinky ring from Glenda Jackson, and the goldfish charm from Lena Horne. A chunky signet ring flashed the family coat of arms: a star and a half-moon topped by a chivalric helmet, anchored by the banner, "Emperatore." This bit of heraldry also adorned Mr. EMPRY's gold-embossed business cards.
At his zenith, he managed Mr. Bennett worldwide for a dozen years, but not Robert Goulet, as has been reported. "Gino and I were Friends," said Mr. Goulet on the phone. "He did Public Relations for me in Canada. We loved him dearly." And then, he popped the most hotly debated question about Mr. EMPRY: " How old was he?" Told an estimate, Mr. Goulet seemed shocked. "Holy mackerel! He never looked it."
Like Jack Benny plus a decade, Mr. EMPRY was eternally 49. "I'm not vain," he insisted. "I just go to great lengths to look better than I am." He would say, with a straight face, that he was born in 1949, though biographical material says he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1961 at what would have been the precocious age of 12 (one unconvinced wag quipped that Mr. EMPRY "seems to have represented everyone from Sir Wilfrid Laurier to Ella Fitzgerald"). He was also coy about his credentials those close to him say he had been a bona fide chartered accountant.
One thing that might surprise people who couldn't see beyond the glitz -- Mr. EMPRY was, deep down, a shy guy with a heart of gold, and a regular churchgoer to boot.
"Everybody's talking about what a character he was and all the stars he dealt with, but nobody has said how helpful he was to a lot of unknowns... all the small companies starting out," said Sylvia SHAWN, who was Mr. EMPRY's partner for 20 years. "Whoever asked for help, got it."
And it was a long list: the Actors Fund of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, DareArts, Easter Seals, the Ontario Musical Arts Centre, juvenile diabetes, Israel Bonds and the Variety Club of Ontario, to name a few. In 1993, he received the city of Toronto's highest honour, the Award of Merit, and three years later, was guest of honour at a tribute from Famous People Players, the renowned black-light theatre company, one of his favourite causes.
Long-time Imperial Room maitre d' Louis JANNETTA, famous for refusing Bob Dylan entrance because the singer wasn't wearing a tie, recalled Mr. EMPRY's creation of "Gypsy nights" -- when the cover charge was dropped at the venue for young theatre unknowns.
"We allowed all the [local] theatres -- the Limelight, the Mousetrap, Second City -- to come for the late show on Thursdays of opening week without a cover charge." A lot of young artists came, John Candy among them, and to Mr. JANNETTA's consternation, their dress was not up to the room's formal standards. "I provided jackets for them," he noted. Mr. EMPRY "was a genius in his own right."
The eldest of nine children, Gino was the son of Arturo EMPERATORE, who came to Canada from a rural region outside Rome, and Lucy FLAMMINIO of Toronto, who was 15 when she gave birth to him. The couple ran a small grocery store and butcher shop, where the young Gino cut off the top of two of his fingers in a meat-slicing machine.
Mr. EMPRY remembered being "wretchedly poor. We had to count our pennies. In the Italian ghetto, there were gangsters and rough types. I used to get beat up because I liked school. I remember my mother telling me, 'There's more than one way to fight a battle. Use your tongue.' So I learned to use my mouth which is very useful in my business!"
He developed a love of the theatre while at Saint Mary of the Angels Separate School in Toronto. He acted with Catholic youth groups before joining an all-boys acting ensemble at Saint Michael's College. "I played Portia and Juliet because I was small."
He had an uneasy relationship with his parents and left home early. His father was distant at best. "My father was a wonderful man, but very shy, and never a father figure to me. So I kept looking for strong men to give me what I felt I needed -- authority. Being of Caesarean heritage… I'm both a gladiator and a slave. I'm a slave to my work and I'm a perfectionist. I insist on things being done right. There are no loose ends with me."
His first job was as a night auditor for a trucking company. Later, he worked as a systems analyst for a transportation firm, while appearing in some 50 amateur theatre productions, including what he'd refer to as his best performance -- in Teahouse of the August Moon. But he yearned for more, and plunked down $2,000 for a career consultant, who advised him to take two years to get a toehold in entertainment. Mr. EMPRY wrote hundreds of letters to radio producers, theatre owners -- anyone who might give him a break.
It happened in 1964, when the contacts he'd made at the Ontario Drama League led him to Ed MIRVISH of Honest Ed's discount store fame. Mr. MIRVISH needed a boost for his recently purchased Royal Alexander Theatre. To compete, it had to draw the big names away from the rival O'Keefe Centre, and Mr. EMPRY was hired. Emboldened, he formed his own booking and public-relations agency. "I started at the top," he said later. "You couldn't get any better than the Royal Alex at the time. I got $100 a week." Things only improved when the Irish Rovers signed him as their international publicist.
In 1970, he became entertainment director/Public Relations consultant for the 500-seat Imperial Room, then the country's top nightclub. In addition to A-list celebs, he booked female impersonators and Las-Vegas-style revues. Mr. Bennett, among the top acts, insisted on the same suite at the Royal York, one that faced east fronting the gilded Royal Bank Tower (the crooner's paintings adorned the walls of Mr. EMPRY's condo.) Count Basie was "the very essence of cool." Raquel Welch was "pretty, but not glamorous." Mr. EMPRY and dancer Cyd Charisse used "to sit for hours talking about everything under the sun… I never got tired of looking at those incredible legs."
The Imperial Room closed in 1989 and in 1991, Mr. EMPRY was abruptly dismissed from the MIRVISH account by Honest Ed's son, David.
He soldiered on with corporate shilling, including for Playboy magazine in Canada. Three years ago, he couldn't have bought juicier publicity than when he orchestrated a handshake and chit-chat between Aline Chrétien, prim wife of the then-prime-minister, and Tailor James, a well-endowed Toronto-born Playmate of the Month. Organizers of the charity event were miffed, but it got tongues wagging. The news media took note, but dismissed it as "a tempest in a D cup."
More recently, Mr. EMPRY farmed himself out, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, as "the Happiness Guru" ($100 for a one-hour session), inspired by sultry singer Peggy Lee, who referred to Mr. EMPRY in her autobiography by that 1960s tag. When he asked why, she replied: "Think about it, Gino. We are considered as stars in the entertainment industry but we are misused, abused, taken advantage of and left stranded in embarrassing situations that have nothing to do with what we really are all about.
"Along comes baby-faced Gino EMPRY, and he really cares. He understands our concerns, our worries and our needs. Even more important, he doesn't pander to the vanities we parade to our unsuspecting fans. He seems to know our weaknesses and treats them with love and respect. He really loves us!"
He really did. "He was very good to his clients, very loyal," Ms. JOLIFFE said. "He often worked around the clock for them."
Of course, there was his dark side. "To know Gino was, at one point, to have had a fight with him," said Ms. Stephenson. "He could be infuriating one moment and endearing the next."
A temper that fuelled more than a few thrown telephones got him into hot water in 1989 after an altercation with a woman in the lobby of the building that housed his million-dollar condo. The judge didn't buy his plea of self-defence, and he was fined $1,000. "I haven't used a lawyer since," he said, years later.
The appearance of Mr. EMPRY's memoirs was a foregone conclusion. He wanted to call them You Star, Me Gino, but the 2002 volume was titled I Belong to the Stars, a collection of piquant tales ranging from procuring hashish for Peter O'Toole, to getting Cher an Eaton's credit card, to fending off the advances of Xaviera (the Happy Hooker) Hollander.
Last year, he corralled support from musicians and performers in Toronto in an event to shine a light on increased gun violence in the city. This past summer, it was rumoured that he was working on a bash to celebrate the city's burgeoning Chinese population.
Mr. EMPRY never married, not even to his companion of 20 years, psychic Nikki PEZARO. He knew he occasionally rivalled the celebrity of some of his clients but "I'm a person in my own right, so why not?"
Gino EMPRY was born in Toronto on, it is believed, October 11, 1925, and died there on October 14, 2006, after suffering complications from a stroke that occurred in July. He was 81.

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EMPEY o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-02-27 published
MILLEN, Shirley Edith (née UMPHERSON)
It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the death of their mother Shirley Edith MILLEN (nee: UMPHERSON) of Tillsonburg at Strathroy General Hospital on Saturday February 25, 2006 in her 80th year. Beloved wife of the late Clarence "Jake" MILLEN (1991.) Dear mother of Fred (Sandra) EMPEY of Komoka; Brian GRAY/GREY, and Heather FLANNELLY of Black Creek, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Cherished and much loved grandmother to Tadd EMPEY of Toronto; Sheris, and Freddy EMPEY of Komoka; Kelly (Adam) RUTHERFORD of Guelph. Great grandmother to Sierra and Avery RUTHERFORD. Dear sister of Margaret and the late Gerald DELANEY of Sydney, Nova Scotia; Jim (Selma) UMPHERSON of Toronto; Kathleen (Gerald) O'BRIEN of Courtland. Shirley was also predeceased by her grandchildren Jeffery EMPEY (1989;) Darryl EMPEY (1995,) and brother Murray UMPHERSON (1985.) Also, survived by many nieces and nephews. The family will receive Friends at Ostrander's Funeral Home 43 Bidwell St. Tillsonburg (842-5221) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral Services for Shirley will be held in Ostrander's Funeral Home Chapel on Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 1 p.m. Reverend Stan STANHOPE of Courtland United Church officiating. Interment Cultus Cemetery. At the families request memorial donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society; Diabetes Association or to a charity of your choice. Personal condolences may be sent to www.ostrandersfuneralhome.com

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EMPEY o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-05-13 published
EMPEY, Leonard Glennville
Suddenly at Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital on Wednesday, May 10, 2006. Leonard Glennville EMPEY of R.R.#2 Alvinston in his 53rd year. Beloved husband of Karen (PARRISH) and the late Jenny (ANDERSON.) Loving father of Robbie, Marsha, Tanya, Sophia and Leonard and grandfather of Skyla, Keegan, Tristan, Robbie, McKayla, Aaijay, Jason and Charity. Dear son of Gordon and Sophie (GREGORCHUCK) EMPEY, foster son of Bill and Dorothy UNDERHILL and step-son of Jean McALLISTER. Brother of Billy, Stan, Ricky, Kevin, Frances, Pat, Mike, Wendy, Aileen, Maggie and Laura Fay. Also survived by a nephew and several nieces, great-nieces and great-nephews. Visitation at Denning Bros. Funeral Home, Strathroy on Monday, May 15 from 12: 30 to 1:30 when a funeral service will take place with Rev. Charles SEED officiating. Cremation has taken place. A tree will be planted as a living memorial to Leonard.

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EMPEY o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-07-17 published
LYSKO, Shirley Catherine (née EMPEY)
After a courageous battle with cancer, Shirley Catherine LYSKO (née EMPEY) of Tillsonburg passed away in her 66th year on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at her son's home in Saint Thomas surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Devoted wife of her late husband William LYSKO (1981.) Loving mother of five children, Lynn and husband Doctor Richard AMSTADTER of California, Michael and wife Kathryn of Saint Thomas, William of Burlington, Robert and wife Stacy of Ohio and Cindy and husband Todd COULTER of Barrie. Proud Grandmother of Tristan and Chelsea-Lynn LYSKO, Daniel and Jessica AMSTADTER, Cassidy and Mitchell COULTER, Lauren, Larissa and Lydia LYSKO. Born on a farm in Springfield to the late Roy and Mabel EMPEY, Shirley was one of 13 children. She is survived by sisters Luella MEATHERALL of Ingersoll and Jean EMPEY of Tillsonburg brothers Keith (RoseMarie) EMPEY of Springfield, Jack (Pat) EMPEY of Summers Corners, and Don (Margaret) EMPEY of Norwich; brother-in-law Don WILLIAMSON of London; sisters-in-law Marlene EMPEY of Springfield, Lorraine (Wayne) CLARK of Saint Thomas, Irene LYSKO of Saint Thomas and Shirley LYSKO of Brockville; as well as many loving nieces, nephews and cousins. Shirley is predeceased by sisters Helen (Harry) ESSELTINE, Norma WILLIAMSON, Dorothy (Mack) SUTHERLAND, brothers Howard, Harry, Kenneth and Melvin EMPEY, brothers-in-law Howard MEATHERALL and Tony LYSKO. Shirley worked hard throughout her life, both in and out of the home. She worked for the past 10 years as a Mary Kay beauty consultant. In this role, she met many women who will remember her for her unique wit and inner strength. She will be sorely missed by Friends and family. Visitation will be held on Monday from 7: 00-9:00 p.m. and Tuesday from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 7: 00-9:00 p.m. at H.A. Kebbel Funeral Home, 119 Talbot St, Aylmer where the Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday, July 19th at 11: 00 a.m. Rev. Janiess BINN- LANDELL officiating. Donations may be made to Community Care Access in Oxford or Elgin Counties, to the London Regional Cancer Centre (Lung Cancer Research) or Saint_John's United Church. Condolences at kebbelfuneralhome.com

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EMPEY o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-09-18 published
BROWN, Stanley Wallace
Former Employee, Wolverine Tube Ltd At the Kingston General Hospital, on Friday, September 14, 2006. Stanley Wallace BROWN of Napanee and formerly of London, at age 62. Beloved husband of Mary Lou BROWN (née LAWTON.) Dear father of James BROWN (Valerie) of Calgary and Jennifer BROWN of Toronto. Step-father of David EMPEY and Karl THEISSON (Debra) of London. Grandfather of Kate BROWN; Lauren BROWN; and Jason CAMPBELL. Brother of Joyce BARBER of Sidney, British Columbia and the late Harry (Butch) BROWN. Cremation. A Memorial Service will take place at Forest Lawn Memorial Chapel, 1997 Dundas Street East, London on Friday, September 22 at 10: 00 a.m. Memorial Donations made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated. Online condolences at www.wtfuneralhome.com

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EMPEY o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-12-08 published
STYLES, Shirley Marie
At Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital, after a courageous battle with cancer, on Wednesday December 6, 2006, Shirley Marie STYLES of Norwich in her 69th year. Loving mother of John STICKLES and Ruth, Wayne STICKLES and wife Carolyn, Gary STICKLES and Diana, Robert "Pudge" STICKLES, Ann and husband Earl EATON, all of Norwich. She will be missed by her grandchildren Sarah, Dan and Kyle, Derek and Crystal, and Nikki, and one great-granddaughter Paisley. Sister of Margaret and husband Don EMPEY of Norwich, Helen DESPLENTER of Norwich, Diane DOUGLAS/DOUGLASS of Woodstock, Donna and husband Lonnie VERHEGGHE of Norwich, Marty and husband Elmer DOUGLAS/DOUGLASS of Norwich. Predeceased by brothers Don FERGUSON and Tom McCAULEY. Shirley was an avid member of Norwich Legion Br. #190 Ladies Auxiliary. Friends will be received at The Arn-Lockie Funeral Home, 45 Main St. W., Norwich on Friday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral service to celebrate Shirley's life will be held at the funeral home on Saturday December 9th at 11: 00 a.m. with Legion Padre Rev. Donna BAUMAN/BOWMAN- WOODALL officiating. Interment New Durham Cemetery. Ladies Auxiliary service on Friday at 6: 30 p.m. As expressions of sympathy, donations may be made to Diabetes Association or Cancer Research. On-line condolences at www.arnlockiefuneralhome.com. Arn-Lockie (519) 863-3020.

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EMPEY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-07-13 published
RICHARDSON, Howard William
Bill RICHARDSON died peacefully in Ottawa on July 7, 2006, his 92nd birthday, after a short illness. He was born in Montreal and grew up in Montreal West, spending summers at Lake Macdonald in the Laurentians. After graduation from Montreal West High, he joined Williams and Wilson, Ltd., a leading distributor of production machinery, where his father also worked. A keen hockey player, he played semi-pro, until sidelined by a knee injury. In 1943, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, completing officer training at King's College in Halifax. Later in the same year, he married Grace Edith (Peggy) TEES, also of Montreal. Stationed in Halifax, he served as a Sub-Lieutenant on board corvettes doing convoy duty on the North Atlantic Ocean. After demobilization, Bill re-joined Williams and Wilson and in 1951, took up residence in Hudson, Quebec. Bill and Peggy curled in the winters and with four young children, the family was active in the yacht club and the golf club, as well as horseback riding. Each fall, Bill went duck hunting with Friends and business colleagues on the lower St. Lawrence River. In 1962, he joined the fledgling Toronto industrial distributor, Wainbee Tools Ltd., as a partner. Together with Jean-Paul Trudeau, he established a successful branch in Montreal, serving Quebec and the Maritimes. In 1974, he retired and he and Peggy moved to West Hawkesbury, Ontario, where he converted a ramshackle barn on a farm property to a welcoming family home. He led a very active life at Granary Farm, growing nursery stock, flowers and vegetables and making honey. He was a partner in a near-by Christmas tree farm. He enjoyed bass fishing at the North Lake Fish and Game Club's Lac Commandant, as well as salmon fishing in Labrador. On visits from his grandchildren, he entertained them with rides in the tractor bucket, feeding the steers and many practical jokes. He knew where to find the best corn on the cob in every place he lived. Bill and Peggy wintered in Vero Beach, Florida for over 25 years, developing many close Friendships. Bill especially enjoyed fishing and was a dedicated fan of the Dodgers at their spring training camps. In 1997, he and Peggy moved to Bath, Ontario and then, in declining health, to a retirement residence in Ottawa in 2005. Bill was predeceased by his sisters, Jean Laurie and Ruth Empey. He is survived by Peggy, his wife of 63 years, his son, Blair RICHARDSON of Oakville, daughters Sheila BLAINEY of Cobourg, Diana CARR of Ottawa and Pamela RICHARDSON of Hudson, Quebec along with son-in-law Jim BLAINEY, daughter-inlaw Sharon RICHARDSON, brother-in-law Ronald LAURIE, nephew Bill EMPEY, niece Anne GILLESPIE, cousin Frances COULL, and grandchildren Evan and Tori (BLAINEY,) Matthew and Katherine (CARR) and Graham and Gillian (RICHARDSON.) Following a private funeral, he will be interred at the Saint_James Anglican Church cemetery in Hudson, Quebec. He will long be remembered for living according to a strongly-held sense of duty; to his country, his wife and family, his employees, and his Friends. He will be sadly missed. In lieu of flowers, donations to Ducks Unlimited Canada, P.O. Box 1160, Stonewall, Manitoba R0C 2Z0 would be appreciated. A special thanks goes to the Alzheimer Society of Kingston, for their support to the family.

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EMPRINGHAM o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-06-30 published
WRIGHT, Donald "Don" John Alexander, B.A., D.M., L.M., Member of Order of Canada
Don passed away peacefully at his home in Toronto after a brief illness on June 27th, 2006 in his 98th year. His beloved wife Lillian, his life partner and best friend, predeceased him on January 12, 1993. Sadly missed and fondly remembered by his sister Dr. Mary Jean WRIGHT of London, Ontario, son Timothy and his wife Sharon (née EMPRINGHAM) of Sarnia, daughter Priscilla of Toronto, son Patrick (predeceased in 1993), grand_sons and granddaughters Christopher and his wife Katrin (née ZEUNER) of Toronto, Brian and his wife Susan (née PRINCE) of Australia, Pamela WHITTAKER of Delaware, Ontario, Liam and his wife Louise of Toronto, Alyssa of Cannington and Doctor Tarah and her husband Daniel of Halifax, great-grand_sons Connor, Kyle, Corwin, Benjamin and Aidan, and great-granddaughters Cassidy and Lilly. Don really lived a charmed life. He was born in Strathroy, Ontario to Ernest and Jean (nee CLARK) WRIGHT in 1908. He had three brothers and a sister Doctor Mary WRIGHT. The family was very involved in theatre and music and the boys formed the "Wright Brothers Orchestra" which had a great following during their school years and on through university. Don met his "Lilly Belle" (Lillian (née MEIGHEN,) the daughter of the Right Honourable Arthur MEIGHEN and his wife Isabel (nee COX) at one of the dances and the rest was history. They courted each other for their entire lives together. At the University of Western Ontario, Don started the U.W.O. marching band -- an institution that continues to this day. He was a very successful athlete as a sprinter, high hurdler and his long jump record of twenty-three feet, eight inches held for over a quarter century. Don taught music, history, Latin and Greek for several years at Sir Adam Beck Collegiate in London and all of his classes were over-subscribed. His pedagogical talents were prodigious and his former pupils still rave about his classes more than 60 years after he taught them. Don became supervisor of music for the London Board of Education and from there he was recruited to take over the reins of CFPL Radio. He completely remodeled the studios and control rooms and simultaneously brought new and exciting programming to life. He increased the audience levels many times over. His " CFPL Goes Calling" brought many talented people (both musical and other forms of radio entertainment) onto the airwaves. Such voices as Max Ferguson (Rawhide), Ward Cornell, John Tretheway and Murray Brown were all brought into CFPL by Don. His outstanding creation while there was his "Don Wright Chorus" which entranced audiences throughout both Canada and the U.S. all through the early 1950s. Don moved to Toronto in 1955 and continued his advertising "jingle" business in addition to being Musical Director for the Denny Vaughn Show, Wayne and Schuster and the Cliff McKey show "Holiday Ranch". He developed a new radio choir called the Don Wright Singers which performed for several years. As his career matured he composed a series of provincial anthems presented in a performance package called "Proudly we Praise", a tribute to Canada, which could be performed by professionals or amateurs, and Don was very proud to be asked to arrange and conduct a performance of this work on Parliament Hill on Canada's Centennial for Queen Elizabeth II. Don's philanthropy in later years was generous and impressive. He donated to track and field endeavours and musical programmes at many universities across Canada. He received several Honourary Doctorates from Canadian Universities for these efforts, and the faculties of music at U.W.O. and Victoria University bear his name. Grace Hospital in Toronto as well as Saint Michael's Hospital's maternity centres bear his and Lillian's names. A celebration of his life will be held in Saint_James Cathedral, 65 Church Street, (at King Street East) Toronto on Thursday, July 6th at 11 o'clock. A reception will follow. Private entombment in the family niche at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Please direct any donations to the charity of your choice. Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles Chapel 416-487-4523

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EMPRINGHAM o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-06-30 published
WRIGHT, Donald "Don" John Alexander, B.A., D.M., L.M., Member of Order of Canada
Don passed away peacefully at his home in Toronto after a brief illness on June 27th, 2006 in his 98th year. His beloved wife Lillian, his life partner and best friend, predeceased him on January 12, 1993. Sadly missed and fondly remembered by his sister Dr. Mary Jean WRIGHT of London, Ontario, son Timothy and his wife Sharon (née EMPRINGHAM) of Sarnia, daughter Priscilla of Toronto, son Patrick (predeceased in 1993), grand_sons and granddaughters Christopher and his wife Katrin (née ZEUNER) of Toronto, Brian and his wife Susan (née PRINCE) of Australia, Liam and his wife Louise of Toronto, Alyssa of Cannington and Tarah and her husband Daniel of Halifax, great-grand_sons Connor, Kyle, Corwin, Benjamin and Aidan, and great-granddaughters Cassidy and Lilly. Don really lived a charmed life. He was born in Strathroy, Ontario to Ernest and Jean (née CLARK) WRIGHT in 1908. He had three brothers and a sister Doctor Mary WRIGHT. The family was very involved in theatre and music and the boys formed the "Wright Brothers Orchestra" which had a great following during their school years and on through university. Don met his "Lilly Belle" (Lillian (née MEIGHEN,) the daughter of the Right Honourable Arthur MEIGHEN and his wife Isabel (née COX) at one of the dances and the rest was history. They courted each other for their entire lives together. At the University of Western Ontario, Don started the U.W.O. marching band - an institution that continues to this day. He was a very successful athlete as a sprinter, high hurdler and his long jump record of twenty-three feet, eight inches held for over a quarter century. Don taught music, history, Latin and Greek for several years at Sir Adam Beck Collegiate in London and all of his classes were over-subscribed. His pedagogical talents were prodigious and his former pupils still rave about his classes more than 60 years after he taught them. Don became supervisor of music for the London Board of Education and from there he was recruited to take over the reins of CFPL Radio. He completely remodeled the studios and control rooms and simultaneously brought new and exciting programming to life. He increased the audience levels many times over. His " CFPL Goes Calling" brought many talented people (both musical and other forms of radio entertainment) onto the airwaves. Such voices as Max Ferguson (Rawhide), Ward Cornell, John Tretheway and Murray Brown were all brought into CFPL by Don. His outstanding creation while there was his "Don Wright Chorus" which entranced audiences throughout both Canada and the U.S. all through the early 1950s. Don moved to Toronto in 1955 and continued his advertising "jingle" business in addition to being Musical Director for the Denny Vaughn Show, Wayne and Schuster and the Cliff McKey show "Holiday Ranch". He developed a new radio choir called the Don Wright Singers which performed for several years. As his career matured he composed a series of provincial anthems presented in a performance package called "Proudly we Praise", a tribute to Canada, which could be performed by professionals or amateurs, and Don was very proud to be asked to arrange and conduct a performance of this work on Parliament Hill on Canada's Centennial for Queen Elizabeth II. Don's philanthropy in later years was generous and impressive. He donated to track and field endeavours and musical programmes at many universities across Canada. He received several Honourary Doctorates from Canadian Universities for these efforts, and the faculties of music at U.W.O. and Victoria University bear his name. Grace Hospital in Toronto as well as Saint Michael's Hospital's maternity centres bear his and Lillian's names. A celebration of his life will be held in Saint_James Cathedral, 65 Church Street, (at King Street East) Toronto on Thursday, July 6th at 11 o'clock. A reception will follow. Private entombment in the family niche at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Please direct any donations to the charity of your choice.

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EMPRINGHAM o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-07-04 published
WRIGHT, Donald "Don" John Alexander, B.A., D.M., L.M.,
Member of Order of Canada.
Don passed away peacefully at his home in Toronto after a brief illness on June 27th, 2006 in his 98th year. His beloved wife Lillian, his life partner and best friend, predeceased him on January 12, 1993. Sadly missed and fondly remembered by his sister Dr. Mary Jean WRIGHT of London, Ontario, son Timothy and his wife Sharon (née EMPRINGHAM) of Sarnia, daughter Priscilla of Toronto, son Patrick (predeceased in 1993), grand_sons and granddaughters Christopher and his wife Katrin (née ZEUNER) of Toronto, Brian and his wife Susan (née PRINCE) of Australia, Pamela WHITTAKER of Delaware, Ontario, Liam and his wife Louise of Toronto, Alyssa of Cannington and Doctor Tarah and her husband Daniel of Halifax, great-grand_sons Connor, Kyle, Corwin, Benjamin and Aidan, and great-granddaughters Cassidy and Lilly. Don really lived a charmed life. He was born in Strathroy, Ontario to Ernest and Jean (nee CLARK) WRIGHT in 1908. He had three brothers and a sister Doctor Mary WRIGHT. The family was very involved in theatre and music and the boys formed the "Wright Brothers Orchestra" which had a great following during their school years and on through university. Don met his "Lilly Belle" (Lillian (née MEIGHEN,) the daughter of the Right Honourable Arthur MEIGHEN and his wife Isabel (nee COX) at one of the dances and the rest was history. They courted each other for their entire lives together. At the University of Western Ontario, Don started the U.W.O. marching band - an institution that continues to this day. He was a very successful athlete as a sprinter, high hurdler and his long jump record of twenty-three feet, eight inches held for over a quarter century. Don taught music, history, Latin and Greek for several years at Sir Adam Beck Collegiate in London and all of his classes were over-subscribed. His pedagogical talents were prodigious and his former pupils still rave about his classes more than 60 years after he taught them. Don became supervisor of music for the London Board of Education and from there he was recruited to take over the reins of CFPL Radio. He completely remodeled the studios and control rooms and simultaneously brought new and exciting programming to life. He increased the audience levels many times over. His " CFPL Goes Calling" brought many talented people (both musical and other forms of radio entertainment) onto the airwaves. Such voices as Max Ferguson (Rawhide), Ward Cornell, John Tretheway and Murray Brown were all brought into CFPL by Don. His outstanding creation while there was his "Don Wright Chorus" which entranced audiences throughout both Canada and the U.S. all through the early 1950s. Don moved to Toronto in 1955 and continued his advertising "jingle" business in addition to being Musical Director for the Denny Vaughn Show, Wayne and Schuster and the Cliff McKey show "Holiday Ranch". He developed a new radio choir called the Don Wright Singers which performed for several years. As his career matured he composed a series of provincial anthems presented in a performance package called "Proudly we Praise", a tribute to Canada, which could be performed by professionals or amateurs, and Don was very proud to be asked to arrange and conduct a performance of this work on Parliament Hill on Canada's Centennial for Queen Elizabeth II. Don's philanthropy in later years was generous and impressive. He donated to track and field endeavours and musical programmes at many universities across Canada. He received several Honourary Doctorates from Canadian Universities for these efforts, and the faculties of music at U.W.O. and Victoria University bear his name. Grace Hospital in Toronto as well as Saint Michael's Hospital's maternity centres bear his and Lillian's names. A celebration of his life will be held in Saint_James Cathedral, 65 Church Street, (at King Street East) Toronto on Thursday, July 6th at 11 o'clock. A reception will follow. Private entombment in the family niche at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Please direct any donations to the charity of your choice.

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EMPRINGHAM o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-03-18 published
EMMERSON, Mel
Peacefully, at Markham-Stouffville Hospital, on March 17, 2006, in his 87th year. Beloved husband of Margaret (EMPRINGHAM- HOOVER) and the late Margaret (McCOWAN.) Loving dad of June (Fred) VLIEK, Faye (Lloyd) RICHARDSON, Wayne (Debra), and Blair (Paula). Proud grandpa of 12 and great-grandpa of 9. Step-dad of Lois (Doug) ANDREWS, Murray (Kim) EMPRINGHAM. Dear brother to Margaret (late Fred) JEMMETT, Lorne (Isobel) and Murray (Ev), and the late Leland (Jackie). Friends may call at East Ridge Church, Stouffville, on Monday 2-5 and 7-9 p.m. Service Tuesday at 1: 30 p.m. Interment Stouffville Cemetery. If desired, memorial donations may be made to the Parkview Home Building Fund.

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EMPRY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-10-16 published
Impresario to the stars dies at 83
By Marina JIMÉNEZ, Page A13
Gino EMPRY, a legendary impresario whose status as the dean of Toronto talent agents sometimes rivalled the celebrity of his clients, has died at 83.
Mr. EMPRY, a fixture on the arts scene for five decades, called himself the "father of publicity." He befriended and managed Tony Bennett in the 1970s, and worked with more than 1,000 artists, including Cher, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope and Roy Orbison.
The eldest of nine children, he grew up in Little Italy where his parents ran a grocery and butcher store. By the age of 14, Mr. EMPRY was starring in drama shows organized by the Catholic Youth Organization. After high school, he worked for a waterfront trucking company and moved to the Toronto islands.
In 1964, he launched his own agency, and was working in show business as a director, producer and promoter. That year, Ed MIRVISH hired him as press agent for the refurbished Royal Alexandra Theatre. In 1970, Toronto's Royal York Hotel hired him for the Imperial Room, then considered the best nightclub in the country.
The self-described "little guy with the big mouth" was a flamboyant character whose 2002 book I Belong to the Stars detailed his relationship with 22 of the entertainers he represented.
The ultimate promoter, he was always coy about his own age, and loved to tell and re-tell anecdotes about the stars he worked with, including Peter O'Toole, Laurence Olivier, Petula Clark, Hugh Hefner and Bill Cosby.

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EMPRY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-10-23 published
Gino EMPRY, Agent And Publicist (1925-2006)
Brassy Toronto impresario with a 1,000-name roster of show-biz clients was, deep down, a shy guy with a heart of gold, and a regular churchgoer
By Ron CSILLAG,
Special to The Globe and Mail; Globe and Mail archives, Page S8
Toronto -- He spent one night with Pearl Bailey while the singer talked about the sex life of a pomegranate until 3 a.m.
Marlene Dietrich gave him a wallet with blank cards inside after spying him fishing around in his pockets for something to scribble on. "You must always be chic," she cooed.
Tony Bennett once fixed him with a stare and asked menacingly, "What the hell is that supposed to mean? Are you making fun of me?"
Phyllis Diller once sent him $500 to help pay for a nose job. On the other hand, buxom Jane Russell took one look at that generous schnozz and pronounced it "big enough to fit my cleavage."
Welcome to Gino EMPRY's world.
Talent agent, impresario, boulevardier and flack-turned-friend to dozens -- no darling, make that hundreds -- of stars, Mr. EMPRY was a throwback to an era when Public Relations men such as Irving "Swifty" Lazar bent the ears of such make'em-or-break'em celebrity scribes as Walter Winchell and Hedda Hopper.
For over 40 years, Mr. EMPRY was a show-biz fixture in Toronto, booking the talent at the fabled Imperial Room in the Royal York Hotel, hyping his stable to pretty much anyone who listened, befriending cops, doormen, tough guys and starving artists. Dubbed the father of celebrity publicity in Canada, it's probably no exaggeration to say he rubbed shoulders with every famous name in, well, the Western Hemisphere.
His 1,000-name roster of clients included, at various times, Mr. Bennett, Peggy Lee, Deborah Kerr, Cher, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope, Eartha Kitt, Peter O'Toole and, closer to home, Ronnie Hawkins, William Hutt, Karen Kain, Anne Murray and Roch Voisine. The only person he regretted not having worked with was Clark Gable. "But he's dead," Mr. EMPRY once observed. "Otherwise, I've met all the others."
His forte was the personal touch. "He and I hit it off quite well," recalled Ms. Murray. "He was always so flamboyant and we always had good laughs. He used to say to me, 'when are we gonna have dinner?' And, of course, we never had dinner. But every year he sent me a Christmas card -- every single year since 1971 -- and he handwrote on every one, 'when are we gonna have dinner?' "
It was a God-given gift, he told The Globe and Mail in a 1996 spread. "That's why stars trust me and why they have done things for me that they wouldn't do for other people."
Like the time he talked British singer Petula Clark into taking over a laryngitis-stricken Mr. Bennett's Toronto gig on one day's notice. Or when the Toronto police force "begged" Mr. EMPRY to get Hal Linden, then television's Captain Barney Miller, to appear at one of their bashes. "He said yes to me, and I guess that's partly why I have half the police force as my Friends," Mr. EMPRY recalled with satisfaction. "I just looove policemen."
And they loved him back. At his legendary parties, whether at the Royal York or at his knick-knack-filled, white-carpeted, shagadelic downtown pad, "half the Toronto police was there, and that's one reason he could park anywhere at any time, no questions asked," recalled Mary JOLLIFFE, who served as the Stratford Festival's first communications director. "He never paid a parking ticket -- ever," confirmed Helga STEPHENSON, a Toronto film promoter.
Mr. EMPRY was a character in a character's world. "People tell me, 'Gino, you don't walk into a room, you make an appearance.' " It was a trick he learned from Bernadette Peters. "She told me once, 'Gino, do you know how you get the best table in a restaurant? You walk to the front of the line and look imperious.' "
The look came naturally. The family name was EMPERATORE, from the Italian imperatore, meaning emperor or commander, or, to Mr. EMPRY, of the Caesars. "And my police Friends tell me I am like a Caesar, always ordering people around."
It was an unlikely trait for a pallid, elfin guy, barely 5 feet 6 inches (when not wearing his favourite two-inch heels), a Kim Jong-il-style bouffant 'do, silk ascot, and jewellery -- lots of it, as befitting someone with such distinguished roots. Around his neck was a multicoloured ammolite pendant -- a gift, he said, from Ella Fitzgerald. The heavy gold bracelet was from Tony Bennett, the Mickey Mouse watch from Kay Ballard, the diamond pinky ring from Glenda Jackson, and the goldfish charm from Lena Horne. A chunky signet ring flashed the family coat of arms: a star and a half-moon topped by a chivalric helmet, anchored by the banner, "Emperatore." This bit of heraldry also adorned Mr. EMPRY's gold-embossed business cards.
At his zenith, he managed Mr. Bennett worldwide for a dozen years, but not Robert Goulet, as has been reported. "Gino and I were Friends," said Mr. Goulet on the phone. "He did Public Relations for me in Canada. We loved him dearly." And then, he popped the most hotly debated question about Mr. EMPRY: " How old was he?" Told an estimate, Mr. Goulet seemed shocked. "Holy mackerel! He never looked it."
Like Jack Benny plus a decade, Mr. EMPRY was eternally 49. "I'm not vain," he insisted. "I just go to great lengths to look better than I am." He would say, with a straight face, that he was born in 1949, though biographical material says he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1961 at what would have been the precocious age of 12 (one unconvinced wag quipped that Mr. EMPRY "seems to have represented everyone from Sir Wilfrid Laurier to Ella Fitzgerald"). He was also coy about his credentials those close to him say he had been a bona fide chartered accountant.
One thing that might surprise people who couldn't see beyond the glitz -- Mr. EMPRY was, deep down, a shy guy with a heart of gold, and a regular churchgoer to boot.
"Everybody's talking about what a character he was and all the stars he dealt with, but nobody has said how helpful he was to a lot of unknowns... all the small companies starting out," said Sylvia SHAWN, who was Mr. EMPRY's partner for 20 years. "Whoever asked for help, got it."
And it was a long list: the Actors Fund of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, DareArts, Easter Seals, the Ontario Musical Arts Centre, juvenile diabetes, Israel Bonds and the Variety Club of Ontario, to name a few. In 1993, he received the city of Toronto's highest honour, the Award of Merit, and three years later, was guest of honour at a tribute from Famous People Players, the renowned black-light theatre company, one of his favourite causes.
Long-time Imperial Room maitre d' Louis JANNETTA, famous for refusing Bob Dylan entrance because the singer wasn't wearing a tie, recalled Mr. EMPRY's creation of "Gypsy nights" -- when the cover charge was dropped at the venue for young theatre unknowns.
"We allowed all the [local] theatres -- the Limelight, the Mousetrap, Second City -- to come for the late show on Thursdays of opening week without a cover charge." A lot of young artists came, John Candy among them, and to Mr. JANNETTA's consternation, their dress was not up to the room's formal standards. "I provided jackets for them," he noted. Mr. EMPRY "was a genius in his own right."
The eldest of nine children, Gino was the son of Arturo EMPERATORE, who came to Canada from a rural region outside Rome, and Lucy FLAMMINIO of Toronto, who was 15 when she gave birth to him. The couple ran a small grocery store and butcher shop, where the young Gino cut off the top of two of his fingers in a meat-slicing machine.
Mr. EMPRY remembered being "wretchedly poor. We had to count our pennies. In the Italian ghetto, there were gangsters and rough types. I used to get beat up because I liked school. I remember my mother telling me, 'There's more than one way to fight a battle. Use your tongue.' So I learned to use my mouth which is very useful in my business!"
He developed a love of the theatre while at Saint Mary of the Angels Separate School in Toronto. He acted with Catholic youth groups before joining an all-boys acting ensemble at Saint Michael's College. "I played Portia and Juliet because I was small."
He had an uneasy relationship with his parents and left home early. His father was distant at best. "My father was a wonderful man, but very shy, and never a father figure to me. So I kept looking for strong men to give me what I felt I needed -- authority. Being of Caesarean heritage… I'm both a gladiator and a slave. I'm a slave to my work and I'm a perfectionist. I insist on things being done right. There are no loose ends with me."
His first job was as a night auditor for a trucking company. Later, he worked as a systems analyst for a transportation firm, while appearing in some 50 amateur theatre productions, including what he'd refer to as his best performance -- in Teahouse of the August Moon. But he yearned for more, and plunked down $2,000 for a career consultant, who advised him to take two years to get a toehold in entertainment. Mr. EMPRY wrote hundreds of letters to radio producers, theatre owners -- anyone who might give him a break.
It happened in 1964, when the contacts he'd made at the Ontario Drama League led him to Ed MIRVISH of Honest Ed's discount store fame. Mr. MIRVISH needed a boost for his recently purchased Royal Alexander Theatre. To compete, it had to draw the big names away from the rival O'Keefe Centre, and Mr. EMPRY was hired. Emboldened, he formed his own booking and public-relations agency. "I started at the top," he said later. "You couldn't get any better than the Royal Alex at the time. I got $100 a week." Things only improved when the Irish Rovers signed him as their international publicist.
In 1970, he became entertainment director/Public Relations consultant for the 500-seat Imperial Room, then the country's top nightclub. In addition to A-list celebs, he booked female impersonators and Las-Vegas-style revues. Mr. Bennett, among the top acts, insisted on the same suite at the Royal York, one that faced east fronting the gilded Royal Bank Tower (the crooner's paintings adorned the walls of Mr. EMPRY's condo.) Count Basie was "the very essence of cool." Raquel Welch was "pretty, but not glamorous." Mr. EMPRY and dancer Cyd Charisse used "to sit for hours talking about everything under the sun… I never got tired of looking at those incredible legs."
The Imperial Room closed in 1989 and in 1991, Mr. EMPRY was abruptly dismissed from the MIRVISH account by Honest Ed's son, David.
He soldiered on with corporate shilling, including for Playboy magazine in Canada. Three years ago, he couldn't have bought juicier publicity than when he orchestrated a handshake and chit-chat between Aline Chrétien, prim wife of the then-prime-minister, and Tailor James, a well-endowed Toronto-born Playmate of the Month. Organizers of the charity event were miffed, but it got tongues wagging. The news media took note, but dismissed it as "a tempest in a D cup."
More recently, Mr. EMPRY farmed himself out, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, as "the Happiness Guru" ($100 for a one-hour session), inspired by sultry singer Peggy Lee, who referred to Mr. EMPRY in her autobiography by that 1960s tag. When he asked why, she replied: "Think about it, Gino. We are considered as stars in the entertainment industry but we are misused, abused, taken advantage of and left stranded in embarrassing situations that have nothing to do with what we really are all about.
"Along comes baby-faced Gino EMPRY, and he really cares. He understands our concerns, our worries and our needs. Even more important, he doesn't pander to the vanities we parade to our unsuspecting fans. He seems to know our weaknesses and treats them with love and respect. He really loves us!"
He really did. "He was very good to his clients, very loyal," Ms. JOLIFFE said. "He often worked around the clock for them."
Of course, there was his dark side. "To know Gino was, at one point, to have had a fight with him," said Ms. Stephenson. "He could be infuriating one moment and endearing the next."
A temper that fuelled more than a few thrown telephones got him into hot water in 1989 after an altercation with a woman in the lobby of the building that housed his million-dollar condo. The judge didn't buy his plea of self-defence, and he was fined $1,000. "I haven't used a lawyer since," he said, years later.
The appearance of Mr. EMPRY's memoirs was a foregone conclusion. He wanted to call them You Star, Me Gino, but the 2002 volume was titled I Belong to the Stars, a collection of piquant tales ranging from procuring hashish for Peter O'Toole, to getting Cher an Eaton's credit card, to fending off the advances of Xaviera (the Happy Hooker) Hollander.
Last year, he corralled support from musicians and performers in Toronto in an event to shine a light on increased gun violence in the city. This past summer, it was rumoured that he was working on a bash to celebrate the city's burgeoning Chinese population.
Mr. EMPRY never married, not even to his companion of 20 years, psychic Nikki PEZARO. He knew he occasionally rivalled the celebrity of some of his clients but "I'm a person in my own right, so why not?"
Gino EMPRY was born in Toronto on, it is believed, October 11, 1925, and died there on October 14, 2006, after suffering complications from a stroke that occurred in July. He was 81.

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EMPRY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-10-15 published
Gino EMPRY, 83: Entertainment icon
By Nick KYONKA, Staff Reporter
Gino EMPRY, a long-time Toronto entertainment promoter and an icon in the international artistic community, died yesterday at the age of 83.
EMPRY, known for his work behind the scenes, will be remembered by Friends and acquaintances as a man who pushed others to stay true to themselves, said Gordon PINSENT, a prolific Canadian actor and long-time friend.
"He was there as the constant angel on your shoulder, reminding you not to give up and that you are important," PINSENT said. "He was a dear man who was loved by all of us who truly knew him."
Born in Toronto, EMPRY got involved in the entertainment industry while still a teenager by starting his own drama group and establishing himself as an actor, director and producer. It wasn't until 1964 that he immersed himself in the work he would become famous for, founding his own agency for booking and public relations. By 1970, he was an entertainment director and consultant for the Royal York Hotel's Imperial Room, which was then the top nightclub in the country.
EMPRY went on to represent some of the biggest names in show business, including Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Bob Hope and Ella Fitzgerald.
But it was always his representation of local talent that set him apart.
"Gino was a truly a champion of Toronto talent," PINSENT said. "He was a man who wanted the very best for us …"

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EMPTAGE o@ca.on.middlesex_county.london.london_free_press 2006-06-21 published
DOWDEN, Gerald Howard
Passed away peacefully with his family at his side on June 19, 2006 at Complex Care, Parkwood Hospital, in his 44th year. Predeceased by his mother Josephine Monica DOWDEN (HOWARD,) father Sydney Aubin DOWDEN and brother John Paul DOWDEN. Loving brother of Debbie and Rob (PETO,) Walter and Cynthia DOWDEN, Cindy and Paul (HURTEAU), Kim DOWDEN, Terri and Mike (OLIVER), Lorri DOWDEN, Sylvia and Lee (EMPTAGE,) Jo-Dee and Derrick (GILDERS,) Anne DOWDEN. Also survived by seventeen nieces and nephews, as well as three great-nieces and nephews. The family will receive Friends and relatives at Forest Lawn Memorial Chapel, 1997 Dundas Street East (at Wavell), London, for visitation on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral service will be 1 p.m. on Friday June 23, 2006, at Forest Lawn Memorial Chapel. Interment Saint Peter's Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Parkwood Hospital or Dale Brain Injury Association would be greatly appreciated by the family. On-line condolences are available through www.memorial-funeral.ca

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