CBC Television Network

O’Keefe Centre Presents

Network: CBC Television Network

Broadcast Run: 1967 to 1968

Broadcast Medium: Television

Airdates: October 16, 1967; November 23, 1967, December 10, 1967, January 16, 1968, February 13, 1968 and March 24, 1968.

Now known as the Hummingbird Centre in Toronto, the then recently-completed O’Keefe Centre in downtown Toronto was the originating point for this series of six hour-long variety shows. Everything from opera to rock and roll, stand up comedy to ballet, was brought to the O’Keefe Centre stage.

Bob Jarvis and Drew Crossan, veterans from CBC Variety, produced the specials, using American headliners and Canadian supporting artists. The first show, hosted by Noel Harrison, featured The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Dionne Warwick, Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, Eric Andersen and a big band led by Don Thompson.

Paddy Sampson produced the second program featuring Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba. This was followed by the December 10th broadcast with Rich Little and his special guests, Al Hirt and Shirley Bassey. The fourth show featured George Burns with a roster of Canadian female performers: singers Monique Leyrac and Mary Lou Collins, ballet dancer Martine Van Hamel, the Hansen Sisters (a violin duo), harpist Donna Hossack with Les Miladies, dancer Sandra O’Neill and soprano Teresa Stratas.

In February, a musical version of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding was presented, starring Robin Ward and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., with music and lyrics by Ruth Batchelor and Bob Roberts.

The final show of the series featured a country music show, starring Johnny Cash.

Contributing Writer: Alex Barris

Written by John Corcelli – May, 2005