7 May 1928|
Medicine Hat, Alberta
21 November 1995 (aged 67)|
Vancouver, British Columbia
Bruno Gerussi (7 May 1928 – 21 November 1995) was a Canadian stage and television actor, best known for the lead role in the CBC Television series The Beachcombers. He also performed on stage at the Stratford Festival, worked in radio, and hosted CBC's daily television cooking-talk show Celebrity Cooks in the late 1970s.
Early life and education
Gerussi was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, the eldest son of Enrico Gerussi, a coal miner working in the Lethbridge, who had trained in Italy as a stonemason, and his wife Teresina. The two married in 1927 and moved to Medicine Hat. The family subsequently moved to Exshaw where Enrico worked as a sectionman on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In 1954 Gerussi joined the Stratford Festival in its second season. During the next few years he went on to act in many stage productions in Canada and the United States, including performing the role of Romeo in the Stratford Festival's first production of Romeo and Juliet in 1960.
Gerussi joined CBC radio, and later appearing on television. One of his earliest TV appearances was as Feste in a 1962 TV production of Twelfth Night. In 1967 and 1968 he hosted a nationally broadcast mid-morning CBC radio show, Gerussi, Words and Music.
The Beachcombers years
Gerussi's best-known role arrived in 1972 when he was signed to play Nick Adonidas in The Beachcombers, a comedy-adventure-drama created by Marc and Susan Strange and 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 CBC cooking program Celebrity Cooks in the late 1970s and most of the 1980s. The series 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 episode 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 appearances in Celebrity Cooks led him to become commercial spokesperson for a line of microwave ovens in the late-1970s/early-1980s. He appeared in commercials for a variety of food products.
He was the host of the first Genie Awards broadcast in 1980.
After The Beachcombers
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.
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 an assistant Director as well as a lead guitarist/vocalist in R&B band The Raging Butanes in Toronto.
- 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 28 December 2017.
- "Gibsons launches Beachcomber's celebrations". Vancouver Sun. archive.is. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Martin Hunter (1 October 2001). Romancing the Bard: Stratford at Fifty. Dundurn. p. 236. ISBN 978-1-4597-2077-0.
- Sherrill Grace; Jerry Wasserman (2006). Theatre and Autobiography: Writing and Performing Lives in Theory and Practice. Talon Books. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0-88922-540-4.
- The New York Times Theater Reviews. New York Times. 1960. pp. 43, 91.
- "Popular media personality loved horse racing, alter ego". Tom Hawthorn, The Globe and Mail, November 29, 2011
- The Museum of Broadcast Communication[permanent dead link]
- "Canada 150: Bruno Gerussi was noted Shakespearean actor before becoming a Beachcomber". Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume, March 18, 2017
- David Makin (5 October 2015). Reantasy, Montreal: The Book to Read, the Place to Be. AuthorHouse. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-5049-5071-8.
- Slotek, Jim (22 November 1995). "Top Beachcomber dies at 67". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 26 January 2010.[permanent dead link]