|Birth name||Gisèle Marie Louise Marguerite LaFlèche|
January 10, 1927|
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Died||September 5, 2003
Burbank, California, United States
|Occupation(s)||Singer, actress, commercial spokesperson|
|Labels||Capitol, RCA, X, Everest, Mercury, Liberty Sunset, Cricket Playhour, Design.|
|Associated acts||Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Dorothy Collins, Russell Arms, Snooky Lanson, Mario Lanza, Bob Crosby, Gordon MacRae, Helen O'Connell.|
She was born Gisèle Marie Louise Marguerite LaFlèche in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and studied violin and voice at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now The Royal Conservatory of Music) in Toronto, Ontario. She had at least two Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio programs, Meet Gisèle, where she played hostess to Jack Benny, Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Fred Astaire, Jimmy Stewart, etc. and Gisele and Mr. Cable, before moving to Los Angeles, California, in 1951 to replace The Andrews Sisters on CBS radio's daily "Club 15," starring Bob Crosby, where she alternated as regular vocalist with Jo Stafford. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1955.
MacKenzie possessed a crystalline, resonant singing voice, and perfect pitch. She recorded albums and singles on various record labels, most notably Capitol and RCA, Everest, Mercury, Liberty Sunset, Cricket Playhour (Pickwick). In 1953 she reached #6 in the UK Singles Chart, with her rendition of "Seven Lonely Days". Her biggest selling song was "Hard To Get" in 1955.
MacKenzie was an accomplished classical violinist, who studied at The Toronto Conservatory of Music and performed many comedic musical duets with mentor Jack Benny. She remarked that Benny was so enthusiastic about his own violin playing that at each break in rehearsal he would get his violin and they would play duets. In an often-played clip, she and Benny perform a violin duet of "Getting to Know You", in which she breaks their synchronization several times to add some extra musical flourishes, to his mock irritation. Finally, he breaks in with a lengthy (and stereotypically mediocre) flourish of his own, and evokes audience laughter with mock indignation: "Fool around with ME, sister!" When her valuable violin was stolen, she turned to singing, and only played the violin when Mr. Benny came calling, which he did very often for their co-billed theater, night club and Vegas shows, in addition to many time on his and her television programs. She did relent and played violin duets with Tennessee Ernie Ford on both his daytime and night time television programs.
She was in frequent demand as a very popular guest performer on just about every television show, including The Jack Benny Program, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, The Bell Telephone Hour, The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Eddie Fisher Show, The George Gobel Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show. She appeared too in the NBC legal drama Justice, based on cases of the Legal Aid Society of New York titled "Hard to Get" which resulted in her hit record of the same title, and made her the only regular performer on television "Your Hit Parade" to get to sing his/her own hit record on the show. She also appeared frequently in Las Vegas venues and in numerous North American concerts. She did a European tour with Jack Benny.
In the U.S., she replaced The Andrews Sisters as a regular vocalist on "Club 15" and her guest appearance on Mario Lanza's "Coke Time" resulted in Lanza inviting her to join his show's cast every week. Bob Crosby and Mario Lanza. She also hosted a radio show entitled Airtime at the same time she was appearing on television's very popular "Your Hit Parade."
In 1952 and 1953, she toured with Benny, who recommended her for Your Hit Parade. During her 4 year tenure on that show, "Hard to Get" became a hit. MacKenzie announced in 1957 that she would not be returning to the show for another season under any conditions, which resulted in the sponsors and producers of the show to reorganize the show, and long-time regulars Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms and Raymond Scott were dismissed. "Your Hit Parade" only lasted one more season on NBC-TV after the shake up. Gisele went on to star in her own Saturday night variety program, "The Gisele MacKenzie Show" where she played hostess to guests like Jack Benny, Boris Karloff, Ronald Reagan, folk singer Jimmie Rodgers, etc. for one season. The Gisele MacKenzie Show. She returned to television in 1963 as Sid Caesar's 4th television wife on ABC-TV'sThe Sid Caesar Show, where she did comedy with Caesar and sang a song each week; she was often a panelist on many quiz programs, including "Play Your Hunch," "Password," "The Match Game," "Stump the Stars," etc. 1963 also saw the release of her first of a series of children's albums, "Gisele MacKenzie sings Lullaby and Goodnight." The album sold very well and resulted in two more for Cricket Play Hour Records (Pickwick): "Gisele MacKenzie Sings and Tells the Adventures and Travels of Babar the Elephant," in which her narration of the beloved children's book by French author Jean de Brunhoff is complemented by gentle lullabies and stirring ballads that showcase her range and pitch, and "Gisele MacKenzie Sings and Tells Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland."
Starting in 1955, during her summer breaks from "Your Hit Parade," Miss MacKenzie added musical comedies to her resume musical theater by starring in such classics as "Annie Get Your Gun," "The King and I," and "South Pacific." She made box office records at some of the venues where she starred. Gisele loved theater and continued to appear in summer stock productions like Mame, Gypsy, The Sound of Music, "Luv," "Now Where Was I," "Unsinkable Molly Brown" and Hello, Dolly! She turned expanded her acting credits in the 1990s, making guest appearances on television series including Murder, She Wrote, "Mannix," "Boy Meets World," and MacGyver.
Throughout her career, Gisele earned recognition as a singing spokesperson for many leading charities and consumer products like Gillette, TelaFlora, Ford Motor Cars (with Tennessee Ernie Ford), Mental Health, California Department on Aging, Zesta Saltines, etc.
MacKenzie has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 1601 Vine.
Orchids from Gisele (Canada) (CC-101) 1958 (a collection of singles, including 1 previously unreleased track, from the early 1950s packed in LP form to promote a Canadian Radio Show Miss MacKenzie did in 1958)
Gisele MacKenzie sings Children's Song from France. 78/45 RPM extended play album. CAS (78 RPM)/CASF (45 RPM) 3224, Van Alexander Orch.
Gisele MacKenzie Sings Songs in French for Children. Re-release of above as EAP21011, 7" 33 1/3 rpm album with new cover
J'attendrai: EAP 1-430 4 song 45 RPM album, Buddy Cole, Billy May, Dave Cavanaugh Orchs.
RCA VICTOR AND ITS FAMILY OF LABELS: ViK, Camden and RCA Victor
Today's Great Hits, RCA Camden 45RPM extended play album featuring 4 songs Gisele sang on 'Your Hit Parade," Alvy West Orch.
Season's Greetings in Song: 4 song holiday 45 rpm EP album for Shell Dealerships: RCA Victor CR-58 (Ray Charles Orch) 4 tracks from the RCA album "Christmas with Gisele")
Gisele MacKenzie, ViK label, LX-1055 (1956) (12 pop standards performed with Sid Bass, Neal Hefti and George Siravo and their orchestras) also released in England on RCA label, RD-27033; and in Japan on RCA label (RJL-2717). Also released on 3 45RPM Extended Play records EXA-179, EXA-180 & EXA-181)
Mam'selle Gisele, Vik label, LX-1075 (1957)(popular songs sung in French with Sid Bass, Neal Hefti and George Siravo and their orchestras) also released in Mexico on Vik label (MLV-1004), in Chile on RCA label (LX-1075), in France as "Mam'zelle Gisele" on RCA label (430240), in Mexico on RCA Camden label (CAM-84). Re-released in Canada on RCA Victor Gala label (G-5). Also released on 3 45RPM extended play albums, each with different covers, EXA-209, EXA-210 & EXA-211.
Christmas with Gisele: Vik label, LX-1099) (1957) (18 holiday favorites arranged and conducted by Ray Charles). Re-released, RCA Victor label, LPM-2006) (1959). Vik album was also released on 3 45RPM extended play records, each with a unique cover photo, EXA-269, EXA-270, & EXA 271)
Gisele, RCA Victor label (LPM (mono) and LSP (stereo)-1790)(1958) (12 songs selected from Gisele's days on "Your Hit Parade" with Axel Stordahl and his orchestra). Also released in Brazil on RCA Victor label (LPM (mono) and LSP (stereo) 5) Re-released in Germany (RCA International Label, NL-89462). Re-released in Japan, RCA label, RJL-2659 (stereo). Gisele MacKenzie, RCA Camden (CAL-532) 9 songs from Vik album LX-1055 (1959)
No Man Can Tame Me (original television soundtrack) (EBC-59-7487) (1959). Also features John Raitt and Eddy Foy, Jr.
Gisele MacKenzie in Person at The Empire Room of the Waldor-Astoria" (LPBR-5069 (mono) SDBR-1069 (stereo)) (live concert recording with Al Pelligrini conducting The Emile Coleman Orchestra). Released in Australia on World Record Club Label (FE-79)
PICKWICK FAMILY OF LABELS (CRICKET PLAY HOUR,DESIGN, PICKWICK INTERNATIONAL)
Gisele MacKenzie sings Lullaby and Goodnight, Cricket Play Hour label (CR-29) (16 softly sung lullabies with Al Pelligrini's orch). Also released on pre-recorded stereo reel-to-reel tape, Pickwick label (P4T-429), and 4 songs released as CEP-28 on 45 RPM EP album. Re-issued on Bellflower Label (BFR-8015), and on Pickwick International label (SPC-3185)(stereo)
Gisele MacKenzie Sings and Tells The Adventures and Travels of Babar the Elephant, Cricket Play Hour label (CR-26) (with Al Pelligrini and his orchestra. re-released on Pickwick International label (SPC-3181) (stereo)
Gisele MacKenzie Sings and Tells Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, Cricket Play Hour label (CR-39) (with Al Pelligrini and his orch. also available on Pickwick 4-track prerecorded tape cartridge (T4-802, and Pickwick 8-track prerecorded tape cartridge (P8-802) reissued on Pickwick International label (SPC-3184) (stereo)
The Story of Cinderella in Words and Music: Mr. Pickwick label 45 RPM EP album, 1 song by Gisele MacKenzie ("The Work Song")
Gisele MacKenzie Sings Dominique in French and English (10 French Folks Songs), Design label (DLP-168 (mono) SDLP-168 (stereo)) arranged and conducted by Al Pelligrini released in Canada on Meter label (DLP-168 (mono) SDLP-168 (stereo) re-released as "Chansons Folkloriques Pour Enfants Mettant en Vedette Gisele MacKenzie" in Canada by La Nouvelle Generation label(NG-1727) (stereo).
Gisele MacKenzie Sings of Loser's Lullabies, Mercury label (MG-20790 (mono) SR-60790 (stereo) (with Al Pelligrini and his orchestra) also released on 8-track pre-recorded stereo tape cartridge, Mercury label (SR-20790)
LIBERTY SUNSET LABEL
Gisele MacKenzie in Person at the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria (reissue of Everest label album), Sunset (SUM-1155 (mono) SUS-5155 (stereo) (with Al Pelligrini conducting the Emile Coleman Orchestra
GLENDALE RECORDS Gisele MacKenzie Sings, Glendale label GL-6017)(1978)(Gisele MacKenzie, vocals and piano with bass, guitar and percussion)
SUE RECORDS 4 songs from unreleased proposed LP (Don't Fool Around with Her Heart, Nahm Me Yoho, All the Sad Young Men, This Time Around)
DOMINION LABEL (78 RPM releases only)
Dominion #1: Le Fiacre (The Cab)/Souvenir De Mon Roman (Johnny Burt Orch) (1950)
Dominion #2: Could It Be You/The Toorie on His Bonnet (Johnny Burt Orch) (1950)
CAPITOL LABEL (78RPM catalog numbers; add prefix "F" before a catalog number for the 45 RPM catalog number) (all released in Canada on Capitol with different catalog numbers). All released on white label promo discs and yellow label demonstration discs.
1722 Jolie Jacqueline/Fairyland (Billy May Orch) ((1951)
PRO-38 Jolie Jacqueline (Billy May Orch)/Disc Jockey Interview with Gisele MacKenzie (78 rpm only promo)
1768 J'Attendrai (theme from Gisele's Canadian radio programs "Meet Gisele")/My Greatest Love (Billy May Orch) (1951)
1807 On Rosary Hill/A Lover's Waltz (duets with Gordon MacRae, Bill Loose Orch) (July 1951)
1826 Sans Souci/I Never Was Loved by Anyone Else (duet with Bob Crosby, Gisele's co-star on radio's 'Club 15', Bob Crosby Orch)
1865 It's All Over but the Memories (issued in England as Capitol/Decca 9168)/Sweetheart (Billy May Orch) (October 1951)
1878 Please/Love Makes the World Go 'Round (Billy May Orch) (titled "Love's Round About" in UK as Capitol/Decca #9168 (October 1951)
1907 LeFiacre (#20, US Charts)/Mississippi River Boat (titled Tu Pocket, Tu Pocket on some pressings) (Buddy Cole Orch) (1952)
1959 My Buick My Love and I (duet with Gordon MacRae, Billy May Orch)/A Lover's Waltz (duet with Gordon MacRae, Bill Loose Orch)
also released as special Buick Dealer's white label promo: SM-101 My Buick, My Love and I (Gisele MacKenzie & Gordoan MacRae)/My Buick, My Love and I (sung by The Mellowmen)
above special markets disc also pressed for Buick Dealer key personnel with no credit given to Capitol Records (Buick Promo single released June 1953)
1983 Goodbye Sweetheart/Wishin' (Buddy Cole Orch)
1997 Benny the Bob Tailed Bunny/Eggbert, the Easter Egg (Buddy Cole Orch)
2059 What'll I Do?/I'm So Easy to Satisfy (Buddy Cole Orch) (March 1952)
2110 Whistle My Love (from Disney's 'Robin Hood') (Paul Nero Violin)/Johnny (with Buddy Cole Orch)
2156 Darlin', You Can't Love Two/Adios (with Buddy Cole Orch) (April 1952) (#14, US Charts) (release in Japan as Capitol/King #10053)
2256 Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes (#11, US Charts) /My Favorite Song (with Buddy Cole Orch) (September 1952)
HF2022 (non-US release) Dutch Capitol/Telefunken label Till I Waltz Again with You/Seven Lonely Days (with Artie Block Orch) (March 1953). Release in the UK as Capitol/Telefunken 80-374
(#6 UK Charts)
2266 Water Can't Quench the Fire of Love (#21, US Charts) /A Crazy Waltz (duets with Helen O'Connell, Dave Cavanaugh's Music) (October 1952)
(a trade paper reported that usually 'one take' Gisele, ended up trying "Water Can't Quench the Fire of Love" 17 times, before she and duet partner, Helen O'Connell could quite laughing)
2307 (Since You're) Gone/The New Wears Off Too Fast (Buddy Cole Orch) (also released on promo Gone (Gisele MacKenzie)/Gone (Terry Preston)
2354 Let Me Know/Friend of the Family (with Buddy Cole Orch)
2404 Lipstick-a-Powder-'n'-Paint/Get It While You're Young (duets with Helen O'Connell, Dave Cavanaugh's Music) (January 1953) (peaked at #25, US Charts)
2501 I Didn't Want to Love You/I'd Rather Die Young (with Buddy Cole Orch)
2521 When the Hands of the Clock Pray at Midnight/Give Me the Age, Height and Size (duets with Helen O'Connell, Dave Cavanaugh's Music)
2556 Half-Hearted/Till They've All Gone Home (Buddy Cole's Orch). (Some discs mispressed with "Half-Hearted" on both sides)
2600 Embrasse/A Walkin' Tune (with Nelson Riddle Orch) (August 1953)
2695 Le Gros Bill (with Dave Cavanaugh's Music)/A Letter and a Ring (with Nelson Riddle Orch)
2743 Doggone It Baby I'm in Love/Ridin' to Tennessee (Nelson Riddle Orch)
2825 El Relicario (Shrine of Love)/The One Who Broke My Heart Is Back in Town (with Nelson Riddle Orch)
RCA FAMILY OF LABELS ("X", ViK, RCA Victor) (78RPM catalog number, place "4" prefix before number for 45 RPM catalog number) (all released in Canada with same catalog numbers, but with blue labels, instead of the black U.S. labels).
X-0137 Hard to Get/Boston Fancy (Richard Maltby Orch) (label "X") (released in Australia on RCA #10152) (released with picture sleeve)
X-0172 Pepper Hot Baby/That's the Chance I've Got to Take (Richard Maltby Orch) (label "X")
X-0189 Reserved/The Little Child (duet with Billy Quinn) (released during label transition, some on label "X", some on Vik) (Sid Bass Orch) (released in Australia on RCA 10136)
X-0202 Dance If You Want to Dance/Mr. Telephone (Sid Bass Orch)
X-0233 The Star You Wished Upon Last Night/It's Delightful to Be Married (Richard Maltby Orch) (release in Australia on RCA 10233)
X-0249 He Knows (George Siravo Orch)/Hello, There (Eugene Cines Orch)
X-0274 The Waltz That Broke My Heart (Richard Maltby Orch)/Oh, Pain! Oh, Agony! (titled Know What I Mean Jelly Bean on some pressings) (George Siravo Orch) (released in Australia on RCA 10308)
X-0300 Jingle Bells/Too Fat for the Chimney (Ray Charles Orch) (released with picture sleeve)
RCA Victor Label (78 RPM catalog numbers; replace 20 with 47 prefix for 45 RPM pressing)
20-7086 This I Know/Never Go 'Way (Shorty Rogers Orch & Joe Pryor Singers)
20-7183 Come to Me, My True Love (Gisele MacKenzie, piano & vocal)/They're Playing Our Song (Axel Stordahl Orch)
Unreleased, unnumbered single: Dear to My Heart/Sweet Madness (orch. not listed, but it is believed to be Axel Stordahl Orch)
EVEREST LABEL (45 RPM only)
19352 You Dream of Me/In Milano (Gus Levene Orch)
PICKWICK FAMILY OF LABELS:
CRS-1000 My Little Pup with the Patent Leather Nose/What's New at the Zoo (Al Pelligrini Orch) (released in the UK on Oriole label (CB-1931)
C-144 You'll Go to the Ball (medley from 'Cinderella'/The Work Song (from Walt Disney's 'Cinderella') (Al Pelligrini Orch) (kiddie record released on both 45 & 78 RPM with same catalog number). Released with picture sleeve.
C-159 The Big Grey Elephant Team/Did You Ever Lose an Elephant (Al Pelligrini Orch) (kiddie record released on both 45 & 78 RPM with same catalog number). Release with picture sleeve.
72113 Loser's Lullaby/By Myself (Al Pelligrini Orch)
- Gisele MacKenzie in the Canadian Encyclopedia
- Gisele MacKenzie at the Internet Movie Database
- MacKenzie and Benny on YouTube
- Old Time Radio Researchers Database of People and Programs
- Mackenzie of Achiltibuie (some of her ancestry)
- Gisele MacKenzie at Find a Grave