Denis Simpson

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Denis Simpson
Born Dennis Anthony Leopold Simpson[1]
(1950-11-04)4 November 1950
St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica
Died 22 October 2010(2010-10-22) (aged 59)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Other names Dennis Simpson
Occupation Actor
Years active 1971–2010

Denis Simpson (born Dennis Anthony Leopold Simpson; 4 November 1950 – 22 October 2010)[2] was a Canadian actor and singer, best known as a host of the TV series Polka Dot Door. He was also an original member of the singing group The Nylons.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, Simpson arrived in Canada at the age of 8 and moved with his family to Scarborough, Ontario, at age 10. He attended Guildwood Public School and was remembered as an exceptional student and a friendly and gentle young man. His half-sister, born 1964, is actress Gloria Reuben. At York University, where he studied for one year, Simpson focused on music, theatre, and dance.[1]


The original bass vocalist for The Nylons in 1978–79,[3] he left the band to appear in the Broadway musical Indigo before they became commercially successful.

Simpson was also a longtime host of the children's television series Polka Dot Door, from 1978 until the mid-1980s. He appeared in such television series as Seeing Things, Mr. Dressup, Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show, Night Visions, These Arms of Mine, Robson Arms, MacGyver and on the Canadian game show Acting Crazy. He also hosted a cooking show on Channel M called Café m and was the "Live Eye Guy" for Citytv Vancouver's Breakfast Television.[1]

He was nominated for several Jessie Awards for his theatre work, winning one for his one-man show Denis Anyone? He was also involved in charitable work with AIDS organizations, and hosting local events.

He died on 22 October 2010 of a sudden brain hemorrhage, approximately two weeks before his 60th birthday.[2]


  • The True Heroines (post-production) as Earl the Milkman
  • Cold Side of the Pillow (post-production) as Father David
  • Robson Arms as the Minister (1 episode, 2008)
    • - My Brother's Keeper (2008) TV episode as the Minister
  • Flash Gordon (1 episode, 2007)
    • - Infestation (2007) TV episode
  • Final Days of Planet Earth (2006) (TV) as the Chief Administrator
  • Soul Food as the Priest (1 episode, 2002)
    • - Let's Do It Again (2002) TV episode as the Priest
  • Night Visions as Bokor (1 episode, 2001)
    • - The Bokor (2001) TV episode as Bokor
  • Get Your Stuff (2000) as Neal
  • These Arms of Mine (1999) TV series as Denis Simpson (unknown episodes)
  • Born Too Soon (1993) (TV) as Jeff
  • And the Sea Will Tell (1991) (TV) as Findlay
  • MacGyver as Ginko (1 episode, 1990)
    • - The Lost Amadeus (1990) TV episode as Ginko
  • Flying (1986) as Fred Stoner
    • aka Dream to Believe
    • aka Teenage Dream (video title)
  • Seeing Things as Eric (1 episode, 1986)
    • - I'm Dancing with Stars in My Eyes (1986) TV episode as Eric
  • The Vindicator (1986) as Joe Simpson
    • aka Frankenstein '88
  • The Park Is Mine (1986) (TV) as Richie
  • Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show as Denis Simpson (2 episodes, 1984–1986)
    • aka "The Elephant Show" (Canada: English title)
    • - Marathon (1986) TV episode as Denis Simpson
    • - Amusement Park (1984) TV episode as Denis Simpson
  • Comedy Factory as Angelo (2 episodes, 1985)
    • - Honey, It's the Mayor (1985) TV episode
    • - The Columnist (1985) TV episode as Angelo
  • Spasms (1983) as Abo Shaman
    • aka Death Bite
  • Utilities (1981) as Twinkle Toes
    • aka Getting Even (Canada: English title: alternative title)
  • Polka Dot Door (1978–mid-80s) TV series as the Host

Theatre (selected)[edit]

  • The Full Monty, Horse (Patrick Street Productions)
  • "Nggrfg, director (Edmonton Fringe Festival)
  • Buddy, M.C. (Adam Henderson/Persephone Theatre)
  • Urinetown, Senator Fipp/Lead (Donna Spencer/Firehall Theatre)
  • Angels in America, Belize/Lead (Michael Fera/Hoars)
  • Driving Miss Daisy, Hoke Coleburn/Lead (Lawrie Selligman/MTC)
  • Ruthless, Sylvia St. Croix/Lead (David C. Jones/Ophidian Theatre Prod.)
  • From Berlin To Broadway, Lead (Johnna Wright/Waterfront Theatre)
  • I love you, You're Perfect, Now Change, Lead (Robert Metcalf/PPE)
  • Wang Dang Doodle, Lead (Rick Kish/The Grand Theatre, London, Ont.)
  • Daughter of the Regiment, Horentius (Michael Callaghan/Van. Opera Co.)
  • Dames at Sea, Lucky/Lead (Bill Millerd/Arts Club Theatre)
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Pseudolus (Bob Ainsley/Theatre London/Grand Theatre)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Reverend Sykes (Bob Baker/Citadel Theatre)
  • Master Harold & The Boys, Willie (Pacific Theatre)
  • Godspell, Jesus (Allen MacInnis/PTE)
  • Blowin' Growin'...Bowen, As Cast (Roy Surette/Arts Club Theatre)
  • Five Guys Named Moe, 4 Eyed Moe (Bill Millerd/Arts Club Theatre)
  • Angels in America, Belize (Gordon McCaul/Centaur Theatre)
  • The Relapse, Worthy (Susan Cox/Vancouver Playhouse)
  • Denis, Anyone?, One Man Show (Arts Club Theatre/Fringe Festival)
  • When The Rains Come, Chorus (Bill Millerd/Arts Club Theatre)
  • Blowin' on Bowen, Johnny Angel (Kim Selody/Arts Club Theatre)
  • Star Trick - The Musical, Spork (Vancouver Theatresports League)
  • Prelude To a Kiss, Taylor (Sherie Bie/Arts Club Theatre)
  • Lend Me a Tenor, Bellhop (Tom Kerr/Arts Club Theatre)
  • Robin Hood, Denis/Morris (David Tagouri/Citadel Theatre)
  • Head A Tete, Clown with Doll (Stephen Heatley/Citadel Theatre)
  • The Coloured Museum, Lead/Director (Donna Spencer/Firehall Theatre)
  • Ain't Misbehavin', Andre (Marlene Smith/Toronto Musical Production)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Simon (Broadway)
  • The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate (Pacific Theatre)
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie (Gateway Theatre)


  1. ^ a b c Csillag, Ron (9 November 2010). "Multitalented entertainer best known as a co-host of Polka Dot Door", The Globe and Mail, p. S8.
  2. ^ a b "Denis Simpson lived to entertain". Toronto Star, 22 October 2010.
  3. ^ Bush, John. "Biography: The Nylons". AMG. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 

External links[edit]