Jackie Rae on the set of The Jackie Rae Show in September 1955. ((CBC Archives))

Canadian singer-songwriter Jackie Rae, who starred in the CBC variety show The Jackie Rae Show, has died.

Raedied Oct. 5 at his Toronto home. He was 84.

Born in Winnipeg, Rae began performing at age three with his sister Grace and brother Saul as the Three Raes of Sunshine.

He was a child singer on the vaudeville circuit and at Shea's theatres in Toronto, and later worked as a talent scout until he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Rae flew Spitfires in the Second World War and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943.

After the war, he became a CBC variety producer, creating radio shows in the 1950s starring acts such as Wayne and Shuster. Hewas head of CBC radio and TV variety from 1952 to '56.

In 1956, he became host of his own variety show The Jackie Rae Show on CBC-TV, which lasted two seasons.

In the late 1950s, Rae moved to London and became involved in BBC and Granada TV shows including Jackie Rae Presents and Sunday Night at the Palladium.

As a songwriter, Rae had an international hit in 1969 when Eddie Arnold recorded his Please Don't Go and Andy Williamssang his Happy Heart, a song that has since been covered by numerous artists.

He often collaborated with other songwriters, including Les Reed,on works such as I've Got My Eyes on You,When There's No You, recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck, and Dream Just a Dream, recorded by Tony Bennett.

He performed in English cabarets in the 1960s and returned to Toronto in 1976, where he became executive producer of the Canadian Talent Library, a non-profit trust that produced works by Canadian artists.

'In love with the business'

In 1981 he formed the Spitfire Band, a dance band that entertained all over Canada and made several recordings. Rae was vocalist and master of ceremonies.

"He was in love with the business — show business," said trumpeter Micky Erbe, co-founder of the band with Rae and trombonist Laurie Bower.

With his fourth wife, television actress Patrician McKinnon, Rae chaired a weekly concert program for cancer patients at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

Rae received the Order of Canada in 2002 for his contributions to radio and television.

Rae's nephew Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario and a federal Liberal leadership candidate, did a reading at his funeral Tuesday.

Rae's wife died five years ago. He is survived by four children and four grandchildren.