KLEIN email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-05-02 published
Architect had a passion for museums
He won Governor-General's Award for a high-rise called 'a superior project' and helped to put the Royal Ontario Museum on the map
By Allison LAWLOR Friday, May 2, 2003 - Page R11
For Toronto architect Henry SEARS, working in museum-exhibit planning and design proved to be the perfect fit. What better place for a man interested in the world to delve into the fine details of everything from fossils to Meissen china?
"He had an inquiring mind, "said Doreen SEARS, his wife of 51 years. "[Museums] fed his natural curiosity in the most wonderful way."
Mr. SEARS, who died on March 19 at the age of 73, began his museum work in the mid-1970s at the Royal Ontario Museum when he was hired to be part of a task force to plan future expansion of the Toronto institution.
"Our job was to reimagine the Royal Ontario Museum, "said Louis LEVINE, director of collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. At the time, Mr. LEVINE was a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum and part of the task force.
"He was the one who made us think. He wouldn't take fuzzy answers from us, "Mr. LEVINE said.
Mr. SEARS relished his job. Mr. LEVINE recalled how his good friend would show up at meetings unable to contain his enthusiasm. With the excitement of a young child, he would describe to the group, many of whom were academic archeologists, what he had learned on his travels through the museum.
"He was hungry for information. He wanted to know how things work, "said his son Joel SEARS.
The task force produced an influential publication called Communicating With the Museum Visitor in 1976, which became a textbook for museum work, said Dan RAHIMI, director of collections management at the Royal Ontario Museum. The publication put the museum on the world map as being a leader in museum theory, Mr. RAHIMI added.
In subsequent years, Mr. SEARS continued to work with the Royal Ontario Museum on various projects ranging from designing travelling exhibits to gallery space. "He was so sensitive to the content. He would always ask what is this gallery about? What stories do they tell?" Mr. RAHIMI said.
Aside from the Royal Ontario Museum, Mr. SEARS worked with several other museums across Canada, the United States and Europe. In recent years, he and his firm Sears and Russell were working with the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin in the planning for a new permanent gallery. Mr. SEARS also worked with the Nova Scotia Museum, the Peabody Museum at Yale University and the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, among others.
"I don't think he ever had the sense that he would ever retire," said Jeff WEATHERSTON, an architect at Sears and Russell. "He just loved the work here."
Henry SEARS was born in Toronto on October 30, 1929. After graduating from Harbord Collegiate Institute in downtown Toronto, he went on to study architecture at the University of Toronto, from which he graduated in 1954. While at university he met a young woman named Doreen on a blind date. The couple married on July 1, 1951, and later had two sons.
After graduating from university, the young couple headed to Europe where they spent six months travelling before heading home. Back in Toronto, Mr. SEARS went to work for a variety of architectural firms before heading out on his own. In the late 1950s he and a partner Jeff KLEIN started the firm Klein and Sears. They worked on several housing projects in the city, including the Alexandra Park Co-operative. Built in the 1960s, the large public-housing project was one of the city's earliest such schemes.
A fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Mr. SEARS received a Governor-General's Award for residential design in 1985. The award was for Cadillac Fairview Corp.'s Bay-Charles Towers, a mixed-use project designed by Mr. SEARS.
"A superior project, "the jury selecting the winners said at the time. According to the jury, the Toronto project shows that "the basic high-rise type provides opportunities for richness of expression hitherto rarely explored."
In 1984, Mr. SEARS created a new firm called Sears and Russell that was dedicated solely to museum work. Over the years, he acted as a mentor to several young architects who came to work for him and others who worked with him in the museum field.
Outside of work, Mr. SEARS loved to travel, and spent time at the family's country place near Meaford, north of Toronto, and on a sailboat on Lake Ontario. An avid sailor, Mr. SEARS continued to race even last year. "He was endlessly energetic and enthusiastic," Joel SEARS said.
Mr. SEARS, who died following a battle with cancer, leaves his wife, Doreen, and sons Alan and Joel.
"He was an optimist to the last minute, "Mr. LEVINE said. "He added beauty to the world."
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KLEIN firstname.lastname@example.org_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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