Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jan Rubes, 1920-2009. R.I.P.

Opera singer, actor, director and everyman Jan Rubes died yesterday after suffering a stroke in Toronto. He was 89.

Rubes, born in Czechoslovakia, came to Canada in 1948 to escape Communist rule and to make a better life for himself. He succeeded on both fronts.

He enjoyed some popularity in Canada but wasn't a household name in the United States. Although some might remember him as the stern Amish patriarch in Witness starring Harrison Ford. Others might remember him as the opera singing mortician on the TV program Due South.

I remember him best as the host of Guess What?, a program that aired on TV Ontario (the Canadian equivalent of PBS) from 1975 to 1983. While I don't remember the content of the programs I do know he either made things or showed how existing things worked. I remember the gentle but upbeat theme music which he wrote and sung. Naturally, I have not seen these shows in years and cannot find them either on TV Ontario's website (they do not have an extensive archive) nor can I find them on YouTube.

If anyone out there has access to any Guess What? programming please let me know.

I did not know that Rubes played competitive tennis into his 70s.

I think it can be truly said that Jan Rubes lived a richer life than most millionaires.

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