THIS FORTNIGHT

THE SCENE

ROSS McLEAN November 17 1962
THIS FORTNIGHT

THE SCENE

ROSS McLEAN November 17 1962

THE SCENE

ROSS McLEAN

“ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SUCCEEDS,” Frank Shuster agreed the other day as a make-up girl hovered over him patting his head and darkening a balding spot she had been guided to, “like the ability to say ‘Who needs success?’” This has been the formula he and partner Johnny Wayne have calmly followed since their breakthrough as international stars several years ago. Except for the summer series Holiday Lodge (whose only virtue, they now admit, was as on-job training in the science of making television films), Wayne and Shuster have turned down hundreds of offers because they were either risky or just not right for them. This attitude of unconcern about fame and money has created bewilderment and despair in the minds and hearts of their U. S. agents. This season they have carefully scheduled work in three countries and will leave soon to tape their BBC special. Triangulating the Atlantic and performing for BBC, CBS and CBC, they are still safely underexposed and have shown interest in a CBC carte blanche invitation to appear in the Parade series doing whatever they most want to. Turns out they have a James Thurber fable they want to do.

Each will play a number of roles, and it may be scheduled near Easter. The men are also now ready for the right kind of weekly series in the U. S. and that may be the next move they make.

139“ JULIETTE first accosted me one Saturday evening thirteen years ago in a Hotel Vancouver washroom. “Where are you,” I heard her ask from somewhere behind me, “now that I need you?” I took a moment to realize that the singer’s invasion was electronic only. It was a practice in those days at CBC Vancouver, housed on several floors of the hotel, to use the tiled men’s washroom as a means of adding an echo effect to music and drama shows. You’ll understand w'hy, in the years since, Canada’s duenna of song has never succeeded in startling me more. In fact, even the sensation of mild surprise eludes me.

When I saw Juliette Cavazzi on that October Saturday evening on which she returned to her post-hockey perch, I w'ondered what has given all that sunshine such a long reign. This season she alone among all the singing ladies on the continent returns in a weekly program of her own. Whence the durability? What did Dinah Shore, Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Joyce Sullivan, Sylvia Murphy, Joan Fairfax do wrong? What does Juliette do right? I have always grudgingly admired in Juliette a quality of certainty about where she was going with her career and how she would get there. It delighted me a few years ago when she began to combine showbiz and bra biz. Good old Julie — just like her. Her sureness about what she would sing, say, wear and do on camera and who would be around her has long passed as professionalism, a possession curiously rare among Canadian performers. Juliette was a star.

And now she was back for another forty weeks and one scanned the screen, searching for reasons. Jack Jones, a young singer, was the producer’s excellent choice as opening night guest. He sang well and behaved bravely, as the show’s script made him the object of competition between Juliette and her singing assistants, known as The Mice. (The outcome of that contest was not even as uncertain as the Liston-Patterson result.) But wasn’t the situation absurd and clumsily executed by the program’s star? Wasn’t the giggle this year somehow shriller and even less motivated than ever before? Wasn’t the dialogue just too noticeably mindless? Wasn’t the display of memory at remembering the names of all four of The Romeos who have sung on this program for five years either coy or revealing or both? Wasn’t this bland blonde with the simulated euphoria finally, after all these years, uncharming, graceless and just a bit embarrassing?