Tag Archives: Canadian National Exhibition

Dressing Up For The Roy Rogers Circus

In my previous blog post I wrote about Roy Rogers’ performance at the CNE Grandstand Show in 1954. (Yes, the act really was called, The Roy Rogers Circus.)

I promised to locate the images of myself in the cowboy garb the orchestra and I were required to wear to match the theme of the show. Thankfully a few photos have surfaced. This first one shows my two daughters and I standing outside Trigger’s horse trailer.

cable daughters

With my daughters standing beside Trigger’s horse trailer at the CNE 1954

In this matching image of me with my two sons, I have put the cowboy hat on my head and you can now see the buckskin fringes. Thanks to the magic of Kodachrome, the colours are still vivid after all these years.

With my two sons beside Trigger's horse trailer at the CNE 1954.

With my two sons beside Trigger’s horse trailer at the CNE 1954.

I also wrote in that post about how Dale Evans signed all of her autographs with a reference to a bible verse.  My daughters were kind enough to share with me the 8×10 photo she signed for them. You can clearly see “Happy Trails, Dale Evans, John 3:16” at the top.

Dale Evans with Buttermilk - autographed photo 1954

Dale Evans with Buttermilk – autographed photo 1954

If you missed the original post, you can find it here.  If you are enjoying my blog posts and want more, please become a follower. The next post will talk about Gene Autry, the not-so-wholesome cowboy.

 

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CNE Grandstand Show Introduction

I was music director of the CNE Grandstand Show from 1953 to 1968. Since this is my first blog post of the Canadian National Exhibition series, I thought I’d give you an introduction, and explain the events that lead to my being chosen for this wonderful job.

Prior to my arrival, the Grandstand Show was practically an all-American production. The stars, producers, choreographers, lighting designers, etc., were all Americans. The only Canadians in the show were pit musicians and backup singers.

Toronto’s new mayor, Alan Lamport, who always had a strong opinion on how things should be, was not at all happy with that arrangement. In 1952, he set out to change the spectacle into an all-Canadian production, with the only American being the star headliner. “Lampy” consulted his experts and was directed to Jack Arthur (vice-president of Famous Players Canada) as the man who could bring a show like that together. Though Jack was eager to get back into producing, he planned to keep his position at Famous Players for the first few years “just in case”. (So it wouldn’t appear that he had two jobs, I heard that his salary for the first year at the CNE was one dollar.)

The first “Canadiana” show that Jack put together featured Alan and Blanche Lund, Max Ferguson (Canada’s lovable radio character, Rawhide), Evelyn Gould, Celia Franca with the National Ballet, the Malvern Collegiate Precision Squad, The Canadettes, and the RCMP Musical Ride. The American star for 1952 was Tony Martin.

With the move to the new format, they were also looking for a new music director for the 1953 season. It so happened that the assistant producer under Jack Arthur was Jackie Rae, who happened to be a good friend of mine. He was also the producer of three of my CBC radio shows, so he knew my work very well. It was because of the recommendation of Jackie Rae that I came to be music director of the CNE Grandstand Show. (If the surname sounds familiar, it is because Jackie was the uncle of former Liberal Party leader, Bob Rae.)

I am forever grateful to Jackie for recommending me. He was a great human being and I miss him.

In my next post I’ll write about what I think is one of the most important parts of the whole Grandstand spectacle — the orchestra!
You can find that post (here)

Jackie Rae 1959

Jackie Rae – 1959

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