|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
|Labels||Capitol, RCA, X|
|Associated acts||Jack Benny|
She was born Gisèle Marie-Louise Marguerite LaFlèche in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and studied violin and voice at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario. She had at least two Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio programs, Meet Gisèle and Gisele and Mr. Cable, before moving to Los Angeles, California, in 1951. 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. 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 violinist 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!
She sang frequently on early television shows such as The Jack Benny Program, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, 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. She also appeared frequently in Las Vegas venues and in numerous North American concerts.
In 1952 and 1953, she toured with Benny, who recommended her for Your Hit Parade. During her tenure on that show, "Hard to Get" became a hit. MacKenzie appeared on the show for several years, finally leaving in 1957 to head her own short-lived variety program, The Gisele MacKenzie Show. She returned to television in 1963 on The Sid Caesar Show and was a panelist on many quiz programs. 1963 also saw the release of the children's album she recorded, "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.
In later years, MacKenzie performed widely in musical theater in such shows as Mame, Gypsy, The Sound of Music, and Hello, Dolly! She turned to acting in the 1990s, making guest appearances on television series including Murder, She Wrote and MacGyver.
MacKenzie has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 1601 Vine.
- Gisele MacKenzie in the Canadian Encyclopedia
- Gisele MacKenzie at the Internet Movie Database
- MacKenzie and Benny
- Old Time Radio Researchers Database of People and Programs
- Mackenzie of Achiltibuie (some of her ancestry)
- Gisele MacKenzie at Find a Grave