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Norman Jewison, 97, on Jan. 20. The Canadian-born director of Hollywood blockbusters like Moonstruck, Fiddler on the Roof, and In the Heat of the Night, got his start in theatre, writing, directing and acting while attending Victoria College at the University of Toronto. He subsequently moved to London, picking up work as a BBC actor, before returning to Canada to train in production for the launch of CBC TV in 1951. He went on to produce and direct numerous variety shows, specials and dramas, before being recruited by NBC in 1958 to work on Your Hit Parade and The Andy Williams Show. His film career was launched in 1962 when Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh’s Curtleigh Productions hired him to direct the comedy, 40 Pounds of Trouble. Jewison went on to form Simkoe Productions. 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid, starring Steve McQueen, proved to be his breakthrough, which was followed by five-time Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night in 1967. His most recent feature film was 2003’s The Statement, starring Michael Caine and Tilda Swinton. Jewison’s films have earned 46 nominations and won 12 Academy Awards. In 1999, he was recognized by the Academy with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Other accolades include the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982, and later upgraded to Companion status in 1992. He was inducted into the Order of Ontario in 1989. Jewison founded the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) in 1986, where Canadian storytellers could learn to master the medium of filmmaking and command a greater presence on screens around the world. Read more here.

Frank Cameron, 85, on Jan. 20, A staple on the Nova Scotia airwaves for more than six decades, Cameron had just retired from Eastern Passage, NS community radio station 105.9 Seaside FM (CFEP-FM) in November. Captivated by radio from a young age, while still in high school, he started hanging out at CKEC New Glasgow, which hired him after graduation. He went on to join CKCL Truro a year later in 1956. By 1959, he had moved to Halifax and CHNS, gaining notoriety as the station transitioned to Top 40 and resulting in a subsequent offer to host national CBC television program “Music Hop” and the local Halifax version “Frank’s Bandstand.” Cameron joined CBC full-time in 1967, contributing to both radio and television for almost 30 years until his retirement in 1995. Another 10-year stint at CHNS followed, before Cameron briefly stepped away from the mic, quickly recruited by Seaside FM station manager Wayne Harrett to volunteer on-air at the community radio station. Seaside FM marked his recent retirement with a four-hour “Frank Cameron Retirement Tribute” show. The station wrote in a statement posted to its Facebook page that Cameron’s passing leaves a void “impossible to fill.” Read more here.

Paul Morton, 85, on Jan. 17. Paul Morton, one of the original investors in CanWest Broadcasting, passed away Wednesday. He was 85. Morton, the son of Henry Morton, founder of the Odeon Morton chain of theatres in Winnipeg, initially went into the family business before applying for a licence to launch independent television station, CKND-TV Winnipeg in 1973, alongside tax lawyer and politician Izzy Asper, former journalist Peter Liba, and broadcast engineer Seymour Epstein. Asper and Morton went on to help rescue the fledgling Global TV, partnering with radio mogul Allan Slaight in an $11.2 million bailout. Slaight went on to trigger the partnership’s “shotgun” clause in an attempted takeover bid that ultimately saw Morton and Asper gain a controlling interest in the network. Morton would go on to serve as head of Global TV, until eventually he and Epstein parted ways with Asper in a bitter, protracted legal battle, each receiving $131 million for their 40% stake in the company. 

Nerene Virgin, 77, on Jan. 15. Starting out as a teacher before moving into acting, Virgin is best-known to a generation of ’80s kids for her role as “Jodie” on TVO’s Today’s Special from 1981-87, which also aired on Nickelodeon in the U.S. The Hamilton native was also featured on several episodes of Polkadot Door. Other acting roles included recurring parts on The Littlest Hobo, Night Heat and Ramona, among other series and feature film work. Virgin went on to work as a weather host and community reporter with CBC Ottawa in the late 1980s, hosted CFTO current affairs show Eye on Toronto, and by the mid-1990s was helming daily national current affairs show Coast to Coast for CBC Newsworld in Calgary. She eventually returned to Toronto as the launch anchor for national weekend newscast Saturday Report and then anchored for Newsworld International, until its dismantling in 2005. After leaving the CBC, she completed ESL (English as a Second Language) training and taught in China, in addition to continuing her anti-racism advocacy. Virgin was named one of Canada’s 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2016. Read more here.

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