Year Born: 1930
Year Died: 2004
Elton, Harry (1930-2004)
Harry Elton had a distinguished career in radio and television in Canada, but by the time he earned his CBC stripes, he had already gained a worldwide reputation as the man responsible for Coronation Street, the world’s most famous soap opera, getting on the air.
Harry was born in Toronto in 1930, but spent most of his early years in Detroit. There, while studying at Wayne State University, he developed an early interest in theatre, which eventually took him to Britain to study at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He had been in on the ground floor in the early days of television in Detroit, and on returning to England in 1957 Harry became an executive producer for Granada Television. It was in this capacity that he was responsible for working with creator Tony Warren to develop Coronation Street, which debuted on December 9th 1960, and is still on the air i both the U.K. and Canada.
After making many significant contributions to British television as executive producer of Granada’s drama programming, Harry returned to Canada in 1963. In the ensuing years, his talents in both production and performing earned him a variety of roles in Canadian broadcasting. After some contract work as a story editor for CBC-TV drama in Toronto, he was then hired as an announcer for CJOH-TV in Ottawa, and soon became their TV news anchor. He later moved on to produce other programming, including a drama series, Milk and Honey.
In 1972, he moved to the CBC, where he worked in both radio and television, hosting Four For The Road with Mary Lou Findlay out of Ottawa, as well as stints anchoring the CBC news hour, and hosting Cross Country Check-Up out of Montreal. Other CBC radio shows that he hosted were Remember When and Hooray For Hollywood. In 1976 he moved to Alberta, to become manager of CBC Television in Calgary; in 1979, he returned to radio in Ottawa to serve as host of CBO Morning for the CBC. Then in 1984 he moved over to host CBC’s Mostly Music classical music program. In 1988, he was seconded to the Museum of Civilization, under an executive interchange program.
While Harry was always a dedicated public broadcaster, his strong broadcasting voice and physical presence made him a popular choice for both voice-over and on-camera work on commercials, documentaries and industrial films.
Harry retired from the CBC in 1989, but after a visit to China in the early 1990s he became fascinated by the country and its people, and in 1994 he returned to China to teach English to Chinese college students in 1994-95, and then again in the spring of 1996. He was on the board of the Ottawa chapter of the Canada-China Friendship Society, and was in Tibet, participating in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Society’s Chinese counterpart, when he died of a sudden heart attack on May 16th 2004.
Written by Pip Wedge – July, 2004