(CBC Still Photo Collection/CBC Image Research Library)
This advertisement from 1965, depicts a laughing Larry Mann declaring that he's "a furious booster for Wayne and Shuster
" and other comedy programming on CBC Television.
Mann had been a CBC personality since 1953, when he regularly goofed around with the puppet Uncle Chichimus on the show Let's See
(later renamed Uncle Chichimus
). Norman Jewison was one of the show's producers. According to the 2002 book Here's Looking at Us: Celebrating 50 Years of CBC-TV
, Mann walked into the CBC to visit his old friend Don Harron, when Harron turned to Jewison and said, "There's the guy -- he'll be great!" Jewison immediately offered Mann the on-screen job.
Mann later starred as Cap'n Scuttlebutt on the Canadian version of the children's show Howdy Doody
, which ran from 1954 to 1959. Over the years, Mann acted in numerous of American and Canadian movies and television shows, and provided the voices for several well-known American cartoons, including Yukon Cornelius of Christmas favourite, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Mann also did a stint as host on the CBC late-night program, Midnight Zone
, which was filmed at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre. Modeled after The Jack Paar Show
in the United States, the show aimed for a relaxed, chatty feel.
"It will be a casual show, with people, not guests. And conversation, not interview," wrote the Toronto Telegram on the day Midnight Zone
debuted in October 1960.
After a few months running Thursdays at midnight, the one-hour Toronto-based talk show switched to Saturdays at midnight in 1960 and 1961. It moved to Saturdays at 11:30 in its final year, 1962. During its run, the local show featured plenty of big-name stars, such as Jayne Mansfield, Phil Silvers, Harry Belafonte and Dudley Moore.Midnight Zone
's producer Ross McLean originally chose Paul Soles -- then a relatively unknown TV announcer from London, Ont. -- to be the host of the show. But the critics gave terrible reviews to Soles' hosting abilities. The Toronto Daily Star, for instance, said he seemed "to lack the necessary experience and authority to keep a conversational show on the rails." After only four weeks on the job, Soles was taken off the job and was replaced by Mann, who remained host for the rest of the show's run.
Mann was much better received by the critics. Toronto Daily Star columnist Jeremy Brown called Mann "quite funny and quick on his feet," and Daily Star columnist Bill Drylie called him "Toronto's only excellent late-night M.C."
Soles would go on to work on Take 30
Posted on Sep 29, 2011 6:00:00 AM