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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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Sylvia Lennick performed with Wayne & Shuster

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Those who attended last week’s funeral of Sylvia Lennick were treated to a taped performance by the actress and singer, who died Aug. 10 at age 93.

The late Johnny Wayne with Sylvia Lennick, who died last week. She is remembered for the line ‘Julie, don’t go!’

“Theatre was Sylvia’s life, and we couldn’t stop her from singing. She sang three days ago in the hospital,” her oldest son, David, said in his eulogy.

Lennick, along with her husband Ben, who died in 1996, began acting with comedians Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster when their radio show debuted on CBC in 1946. She remained with their troupe throughout the 1960s and ’70s, and also appeared on CBC variety shows, as well as on stage in Stratford, Toronto and New York.

She’s well known for her performance in the Wayne and Shuster comedy sketch “Rinse the Blood off My Toga,” which was first performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958.

As Calpurnia, the bereaved widow of Julius Caesar, she cried, “I told him, ‘Julie, don’t go!’” in a thick Bronx accent.

She was a regular on the Adventures of Tugboat Annie and Cannonball, and in the early 1970s, she played Mrs. Sherwood,  the nagging mother on The Trouble with Tracy.

Later, she and her husband performed in Theatre in the Home, in which they went out to private venues and retirement homes in order to bring theatre to those who couldn’t get out.

She continued to perform after her husband’s death, and as recently as 2002, she had a part in Disney’s Get A Clue starring Lindsay Lohan.

Her second son, Michael, said at the funeral that his mother was the strongest woman he had ever known. “Even when she was small and weak, she was strong. Until the end, she said she wasn’t going anywhere. She had songs to sing and a book to write – she was working on her memoirs – and she intended to get back to it.

“This is the first family event [my mother] didn’t attend,” he said.

David said that his parents never felt the need to move to London, New York or Hollywood. “They made their living here.”

In addition to Michael and David, Lennick leaves her daughter, Julie, and her sister, Geri Gans.

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