When I am researching one topic I often come across random historical tidbits that I think might be interesting to research one day. These tidbits sometimes end up as full-fledged stories and sometimes they just stay as random historical tidbits. I have collected quite a few, so I thought it might be fun to present them in the form of “treats” for a local history advent calendar. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Vancouver history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.
Day 8: 1970s teen sensation René Simard once had a variety show on CBC TV that was filmed in Vancouver …
From 1977 to 1979, René hosted The René Simard Show, a variety show recorded in the CBC studios in Vancouver in front of a live (mainly female) audience.
René was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec in 1961. He started his singing career at the age of 9, capturing the hearts of audiences in his native Quebec. In 1974, Simard represented Canada at the International Festival of Song in Tokyo, where he won first prize for performance and the Frank Sinatra trophy, which was presented by Sinatra himself. Internationally, the teenage Simard was also a big hit in Japan. He made several guest appearances on U.S. television variety shows, before he began starring in his own English-language network television show, in 1977, at the age of 16.
The CBC show was produced in Vancouver by Alan Thicke and featured Canadian and international guests, including Salome Bey, Jose Feliciano, Liona Boyd, Andy Williams, The Bay City Rollers, and Peter Ustinov in songs and sketches. In addition, the show featured sports champions, such as high jumper Greg Joy and skier Wayne Wong, and also the cringe-worthy musical combination of Rogatien Vachon, Marcel Dionne, and Boom Boom Geoffrion, as the Hockey Rockers. A true Canadian 1970s variety show to be sure.
Behind the scenes of the René Simard Show from ICI CB / Yukon: