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The names appearing below are just a fraction of the Canadian
women of accomplishment. Check out The Famous Canadian Women 's
section ON THE JOB which contains mini profiles of 2000
Canadian Women of Achievement.
(Marie-Louise-Cecile-Emma Lajeunesse). Born
November 1, 1847 Chambly, Canada East (Quebec). Died April 3, 1930.
She became a world
famous soprano opera singer performing on stages across Europe and
throughout North America. In 1852 the family moved to Plattsburgh, New
York. U.S.A. where she gained musical instruction. On August 24 1860 she
was a soloist in the world premiere of Charles Wugk Sabatier's Cantata
in Montréal, to honour the visit of the Prince of Wales. She became a
popular singer at her home in Albany New York by 1865. By 1868 she
travelled to Paris to continued her musical studies. In Italy she took
the name Emma Albani and on March 30, 1870 she made her operatic debut.
She rise to stardom was swift and she was soon performing in England as
well. By 1874 she was touring the U.S.A. She married Ernest Gye (died
1925) on August 6, 1878. The couple would have one son. By 1880 she was
once again touring in Europe and England. She made her Canadian
Operatic debut on February 13, 1883. Her final season of tours was
in 1896. By the 1920's the couple were financial strapped and Dame Emma
gave musical lessons to earn an income.
She became the 1st Canadian born artist
to distinguish herself in the international world of opera and concert
Note: Some authors place her birth in 1848 or 1850.
Born January 1
1890. Died 1938. This petite Canadian born
actress is universally acknowledged as the world’s 1st movie star.
At age 4 she was performing as “Baby Flo, the Wonder Whistler” on
vaudeville. In the pioneer days of filmmaking, credits with the names of
actors were not important. She became known simply as the "Biograph Girl".
In 1915 she tried to help someone in a studio fire and was badly burned.
She never achieved her former active career. At the time of her death she
had appeared in 250 films! For more information check out: http://www.biographcompany.com.
Florence Lawrence, the
Biograph Girl : America's First Movie Star
by Kelly R Brown
(Real name Georgina May Campbell) Born
Whitby, Ontario June 27,
1862. Died October 22, 1938. As early as 1872 she and her sister Flora
were singing on stage. Once the sister act split up, May would go on and
become a well known Broadway performer. Her movie career was short but
historically significant. Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, placed May
in the staring role in his pioneering one minute moving picture called
The Kiss. It was the 1st kiss of the
movies!!! It was considered scandalous by early movie audiences
and the clergy! It is considered to be the
first moving picture to ever be shown in
May would make only one other movie Mrs. Black is Back before she
retired to live with her husband and two children. She is also credited
with having named the famous Thousand Island Salad Dressing. She and her
family owned a vacation home in the 1000 islands.
(real name Leila Marie Koeber) Born Cobourg,
Ontario. November 9, 1869(?) Died July 28, 1934) Marie made it to
Broadway in 1892 and became a vaudeville star comedienne headliner shortly
after 1900. She stared in films with such top actors as Charlie Chaplin .
She easily made the move to ‘talkies’ .when many top silent film heroines
did not survive. More homely than beautiful she was also an
over-weight woman. This was an unlikely star material. However, she was
talented and she won the Academy Award in 1930. She became
the 1st woman to ever appear on the cover of
Time magazine. For information try:
http://mdle.com/Classic Films/FeaturedStar/dresslra.htm There is some
dispute as to her true birth date with various sources using 1868, 1869
and her grave using 1871.
Born Toronto, Ontario April 8, 1892 . Died May 29, 1979. She began her
screen career in the silent films in 1909.. As an actress she stands above
the rest of her era and earned herself a Best Actress Academy Award (1929)
at the second annual event. She is the 1st
Canadian Born woman to have won an Academy award. Her
sweet girlish looks and her long ringlets endeared her to the the fans who
knew her as "America's Sweetheart". Her dedication to realism in her work
sometimes meant getting down into real mud! Her talents went beyond her
sincerity and heart melting appearance. She entered the film industry and
became Hollywood's first female businesswoman "movie mogul" creating with
her colleagues United Artists Studios. She is the
1st woman to make $1,000,000.00 a year in the U.S. Movie business!!!
She remained to the end of her life, proud of her Canadian heritage.
(née Helen Foster-Barham) Born Victoria, British Columbia 1892. Died
January 23, 1970. This actress was a pioneer of the silent film era. She
was one of the first women in the world to direct her own films and she
even established her own production company. She was the
actress to do a nude scene in a film.
It was a silent film entitled God's Country which was filmed on
location in the Canadian north, snow and all!
Born Truro, Nova Scotia June 24, 1911. Died February 13, 1968. As a child
she sang in her Baptist church choir. Her professional career began its
assent i1941 with an appearance at the Eaton Auditorium in
In 1944 she became the 1st black Canadian
woman to appear in the
New York Town Hall, where she was touted as the “Canadian Marion
Anderson”. She toured in
Canada, the U.S.A. and Latin America before returning for further studies
She would teach at the all girls school of Branksome Hall and eventually
open her own studio. She was very proud to perform before Queen Elizabeth
II in a Command Performance in 1964. Even though she was an extraordinary
contralto, her career was hampered by racial prejudice shown against black
artists at the time. In 1999, some 30 years after her death, her family
released a private CD “First You Dream”. Canada Post released a special
stamp in her honour as part of it millennium celebration series.
Born Nelson, British Columbia.
February1910. Died August 31, 1988. She was
the 1st paid professional television performer in the world according to
a history of Canadian television written by Sandy Stewart. Miller was
also the 1st performer to appear on a trans-Atlantic television broadcast
London [England] and New York.
She would go on to
become one of Great Britain’s most outstanding stage actresses after WW
II. She co-created Razzle Dazzle children’s program and co-producer
of the Canadian education TV game show for students Reach for the Top.
Monique Leyrac. (real name
February 26, 1928.
She was the
1st great international star from French Canada. Using her natural gifts of music and
drama she started her acting career on radio in 1943. In 1965 she won
the grand prizes at the international festival of Song in
and at the Festival de la Chanson at
Belgium. In the 1980's she began to write and stage one-woman shows where
she sang and acted. She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in
1967 and received the 1979 Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée.
Born Adelaide Margaret Eleanor Marie Boissonearu, Winnipeg Manitoba May 7,
1920 Died February 22, 2009. The outgoing young Laddie took courses and
performed at the Montreal Repertory Theatre. Moving to Toronto,. Adopting
her mother’s maiden name. she took a fashion model position which lead
her to fashion commentary. She became a writer and on-air-host for the
Laura Secord Music Box show, CFRB Radio. She worked with Monty Hall
(later a famous U.S. game show host of Let’s Make a Deal) and acted
in CBC radio dramas along with doing hundreds of radio commercials. In
1946 Laddie wore dark pancake make-up, brown lipstick and green nail
polish to provide the best image on demonstration Television sponsored by
Eaton’s Department Stores. In 1951 she married novelist/editor James
Burke The romance lasted 55 years. She became
the first Canadian woman to appear on Canadian TV, September 8, 1952.
Laddie was named Liberty Magazine’s 1955 TV Demonstrator of the Year.
After a brush with cancer, Laddie found a job with regular hours from
1970-1985 as Director, Public Relations, Scarborough Public Libraries. On
vacation she travelled to Morocco. Upon return she sold her travel story.
Thus began a journalistic career that would cover 80 countries. She was
presented with the first Lifetime Achievement Award , 2001 by the Travel
Media Association of Canada. Sources: Northern Stars.ca (accessed March
2009): Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation
Http://www.cbmf-fmcr.ca/Newsletter/march 2009/laddie.php (Accessed
March 2009) ; Personal knowledge.
Evelyn Hart. Born Toronto, Ontario
April 4, 1956. An
award-winning ballerina, Evelyn Hart is an international renowned dancer
and one of Canada’s
most treasured artists. She was in 1980, the first
Canadian to be awarded a Gold Medal at the international Ballet
Varna, Bulgaria as well as the rarely awarded Certificate of Exceptional
née Thornton Born November
13, 1922 Montreal, Quebec. Died April 23, 2016 Lac Cornir, Quebec. Her 1st
stage appearance was at the age of 4 in a passion play at church. In
1950 she studied acting under lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio, New
York, U.S.A.. In 1952 she made her Broadway debut and went on to work in
such hits as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Camelot. She also had numerous
film roles and day time TV roles. She played the Mother Superior in the
hit TV series the Flying Nun from 1967 through 1970. She had been black
listed during the U.S.A. McCarthy era for active participation in the
Civil Rights Movement. She was arrested during a Freedom March in
Alabama. She was also a staunch supporter of the women’s right movement
in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s she became the
1st woman to direct a short film
for the American Film Institute. In the early 1990’s she
retired to Victoria, British Columbia and later relocated to
Saint-Hippotyte, Quebec. In 2010 she released a short film called
Madeleine’s Method for the Actor’s Studio. She married Robert Sherwood
and the couple had one daughter.
Source: Mike Barnes, “Madeleine Sherwood; Star of Tennessee Williams
Classics on Stage and Scene Dies at 93.” The Hollywood Reporter
April 25, 2016.
Céline Dion. Born March
30, 1968. She is an internationally known recording artist and
superstar. She began performing with her family when she was only five
years old! Her first song composed when she was 12 caught the eye of
manager René Angelil who financed the recording. Her career advanced with
the Gold Medal at the Yamaha World Song Festival in 1982. There was no
looking back. She became the first Canadian
singer to receive a Gold Record in France.
She recorded the
sound track for Disney's Beauty and the Beast which would win and
Academy Award and a Grammy. Other movie hit songs have been in
Sleepless in Seattle and Titanic. She married her manager and
has chosen to slow her career to have private time devoted to her family.
. She is a member of the Order of Canada.
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