Bruce Raymond (1925-2021)
A broad-ranging career in the entertainment industry, which later included key executive positions in CBC radio and television, began for Bruce Raymond in the very early 1940s when, while working during high school holidays at the local “Y” in Montreal, he was roped in by their drama group to act in two of their productions. And his first paycheck from the CBC was for his work as an actor in a radio play, Blood Story, by Arch Obler.
Bruce was born in Pimlico, London, England, in May 1925, but by the end of that year the family had emigrated to Montreal, where Bruce was educated at Woodland School, Verdun High School, Sir George Williams (now Concordia University) and then, briefly, McGill. In 1943, Bruce joined the RCNVR as a radio artificer, but by the time he had completed his training, the war was winding down, and he spent his remaining naval time running service movie theatres and producing troop shows in Halifax and the Gaspé.
After the war he enrolled again at McGill, where he took several theatre courses and began an acting and theatre management career. While running Montreal’s Canadian Art Theatre and its offshoot, the Mountain Playhouse, he gave William Shatner his first acting job. In 1949 he was both Business Manager and an actor with the Canadian Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, but he later returned to Montreal, where he was charged with the responsibility for turning the Montreal Repertory Theatre from an amateur to a professional company.
During the early 1950s he wrote several scripts for CBC radio and then television, was writer/narrator for several television documentaries, and, having become fluently bilingual, he acted as dialogue supervisor for the CBC/SRC Plouffe Family series, and translated several French series into English. In 1956 he hosted Crossroads, a 52-week travel series for CBC Television, as well as doing weekly theatre reviews for CBC-AM radio.
In 1957 Bruce joined the CBC head office staff in Montreal as National Talent Relations Officer, responsible for dealing with both the English and French performers’ unions. The following year he was made Deputy Controller of Broadcasting, and in 1959 he became Program Director for CBC’s English radio network, a position he held for five years. He then took a year’s sabbatical, first spending three months at the NBC School of Television Arts in New York, and then enjoying several months in England working with the BBC’s David Attenborough at the Ealing Studios. Having been given a useful grounding in television, he then returned to the CBC in 1965, joining CBC’s Director of Television Doug Nixon in Toronto as his Network Program Director. In 1967 he replaced Doug as English TV Program Director, with responsibilities that included the acquisition of all foreign programming and the operation of the overall schedule.
In 1968 Bruce became Head of Foreign Relations and Export Sales for CBC English programming, and the following year he left the corporation to set up his own companies to produce films and television programs, and to distribute both these and product from other domestic and international producers. In this capacity he was involved in the production and/or distribution of over a thousand hours of television programming around the world.
He was Executive Producer for dozens of television series, including Marc’s Music Shop (for CTV), Procter and Gamble’s Parenting (CBC), and Alphabet Soup (CBC), and was producer of many others, including Frost Over Canada (with David Frost – for Global), Changing Worlds, with Lorne Greene, and The World of Gilbert and Sullivan (CBC), and Professor Kitzel (SRC). He also produced Hooters for the Playboy Channel.
He served on many industry juries, including those of the Genie Awards, the CFTA Awards, Eire’s Golden Harp Awards and the Anik Awards.
In 1962 Bruce wrote a History of Radio, which was published by Ryerson Press. He has been Chairman of the Film and Television Production Department Advisory Committee at Humber College, was Chief Barker and Chairman of the Variety Club, (from whose Toronto Tent he received the prestigious Heart Award in 1996) and has served on the Boards of Mount Sinai Hospital, The Hugh McMillan Rehabilitation Centre, and the Good Shepherd Refuge Social Ministries.
Bruce Raymond died on Saturday April 4th 2021.