October 30, 1918
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
March 11, 2009 (aged 90)|
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
|Occupation||Radio presenter, restaurateur|
Lowe was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1918, the youngest of eight daughters and two sons of his parents. Wanting more male children, Lowe's father had also had a son with his concubine, making Lowe the 11th child in the family. His father died when Lowe was three and he was subsequently raised by his father's concubine while his mother supported the family by sewing.
Lowe bought his first yo-yo in 1931 for 35 cents. He began entering and winning local contests. Promoter Irving Cook noticed Lowe's talent and took him to London, paying his mother $25 each month and providing a tutor for him. Lowe won the first World Yo-Yo Contest at the Empire Theatre on 12 September 1932. He remained in Europe until 1934, mastering over 2000 tricks. His fame provided him with the opportunity to befriend famous people such as the Prince of Wales, Fats Waller and Laurel and Hardy. After his initial burst of fame with the toy ended, Lowe still performed regularly on local stages. Furthermore, in the 1960s, he was invited onto The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour when Tom Smothers created his Yo-Yo Man character and appeared in a sketch as the character's guru.
On his return from Europe in 1934, Lowe entered high school. Then, in 1937, Lowe's mother sent him to Shanghai to learn the Chinese language. He went on to graduate from a Chinese university with a business degree. Lowe remained in China until Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China in 1949, when Lowe returned to Canada.
Lowe held a variety of positions throughout his lifetime, including doorman at a gambling club, owner of the Smilin' Buddha Cabaret, stage manager at the Marco Polo and a restaurateur involved with Chinatown restaurants like the Bamboo Terrace, the Kingsland and the Asia Gardens. He also taught actress Julie Christie how to smoke opium for her role in the movie McCabe & Mrs. Miller.
- Mackie, John (2009-03-13). "The Yo-Yo king of Chinatown dies at 90". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2009-04-12.[dead link]
- "LOWE Harvey". bcradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- Hopkins, Michelle (2009-03-18). "'Great ambassador' passes away". Richmond News. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
- "Harvey Lowe - 2005 Hall of Fame". American Yo-Yo Association. 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2009-04-12.