7 May 1928|
Medicine Hat, Alberta
|Died||21 November 1995
Vancouver, British Columbia
Bruno Gerussi (7 May 1928 – 21 November 1995) was a Canadian television actor born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, best known for the lead role in the CBC Television series The Beachcombers. He also hosted CBC's daily cooking-talk show Celebrity Cooks in the late 1970s. Gerussi died after suffering a heart attack in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Enrico Gerussi, who had trained in Italy as a stonemason, was a coal miner working in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, as well as a musician. In 1927, he married Teresina and they moved to Medicine Hat where their eldest son, Bruno, was born. The family subsequently moved to Exshaw where Enrico worked as a sectionman on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Near Exshaw, according to Edna (Hill) Appleby, author of Canmore: The Story of An Era, there remains a stone bridge built by Mr. Gerussi.
Bruno Gerussi grew up in Exshaw and later moved with his family to New Westminster, British Columbia.
Both of Bruno's children went on to work in film and television. Bruno's daughter, Tina Gerussi, is a casting director in Toronto. Bruno's son, Rico Gerussi, is a 1st Assistant Director (as well as a lead guitarist/vocalist in R&B band The Raging Butanes) in Toronto.
A scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts led him to acting and in 1954 he joined the Stratford Festival in its second season. He acted in numerous stage productions in Canada and the United States before joining CBC radio which led ultimately to television. One of his earliest TV appearances was as Feste in a 1962 TV production of Twelfth Night.
After a two-year stint (1967–68) with his own nationally broadcast mid-morning CBC radio show Gerussi, Words and Music, Gerussi won the lead role on the popular CBC family adventure series The Beachcombers (1972–90) created by Marc and Susan Strange.
The Beachcombers years
The role of his career arrived in 1972 when he was signed to play Nick Adonidas in The Beachcombers, a comedy-adventure-drama set on the west coast of Canada. The Beachcombers ran for 387 episodes between 1972 and 1990 and remains Canada's longest-ever running weekly dramatic series.
During part of his time with The Beachcombers, Gerussi hosted the popular CBC cooking program Celebrity Cooks in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. The series actually filmed for 12 seasons, with a Monday-to-Friday time slot for most of those years and Gerussi hosted 478 episodes before the show's last season in production, 1987. The Celebrity Cooks featured the last public appearance of actor Bob Crane of Hogan's Heroes fame, who was murdered soon afterwards. The taping of Crane's episode was dramatized in the 2002 film, Auto Focus in which actor John Kapelos portrayed Gerussi.
Gerussi's popularity in Celebrity Cooks led him to become commercial spokesperson for one of the first lines of microwave ovens to be made available for home use in Canada in the late-1970s/early-1980s. He was also the face for such food products as a line of frozen pizzas and a variety of other food products.
He was the host of the first Genie Awards broadcast in 1980. The Genies are the primary honours for Canadian cinema.
After The Beachcombers
Canadian rock group Bruno Gerussi's Medallion performed at the Beachcombers wrap party on 4 August 1990 at the Gibsons Curling Rink.
On 21 November 1995, Bruno Gerussi died of a heart attack in Vancouver at the home of his companion, Judge Nancy Morrison.
Awards and recognition
Gerussi received a Gemini Award nomination for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Continuing Dramatic Role in 1990 for the final season of The Beachcombers.
He won the Geminis' Earle Grey Award posthumously for lifetime achievement in 1996. His children Rico and Tina accepted it on his behalf.
- 1953: “Herring Hunt” (NFB, 1953)
- 1962: Alexander Galt: The Stubborn Idealist (movie)
- 1962: Twelfth Night (TV)
- 1967: Do Not Fold, Staple, Spindle, or Mutilate (movie)
- 1972-1990: The Beachcombers (CBC Television dramatic series)
- 1975-1987: Celebrity Cooks (CBC Television 1975-1979 and Global 1980-1987 daytime series and one season in prime time with Global)
- 1980: The Newcomers ("1978" episode; limited TV series)
- 1987: Moving Day (TV movie)
- 1991: The Hitman (movie)
- 1995: Prince for a Day (TV movie)
- 1995: "Under My Skin" (TV movie)
- Davis, Chuck. "The History of Metropolitan Vancouver / "1928"". Retrieved 19 December 2009.
- "Gibsons launches Beachcomber's celebrations". Vancouver Sun. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
- Slotek, Jim (22 November 1995). "Top Beachcomber dies at 67". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- The Museum of Broadcast Communication