Thursday, July 2, 2009

RIP Jan Rubes

Jan Rubes, the Czech-born artist who had a career in Canada as an opera singer, actor and broadcaster, has died, his family announced on Tuesday June 29th in Toronto, Canada. He was 89. The cause of death was complications from a stroke he suffered earlier in June. Rubes was born in Volyne, Czechoslovakia, on June 6, 1920. He made his opera debut in 1940 in Prague, as Basilio in The Barber of Seville and became a leading singer with the Prague Opera. A bass singer, he represented Czechoslovakia at the International Music Festival at Geneva in 1948 and was a first-prize winner. In 1948, Rubes emigrated to Canada and began to sing with the Royal Conservatory Opera and the CBC Opera. He was a founding member of the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, performing more than 1,000 times between 1949 and 1989. In the 1960s, he also began acting, appearing on TV programs such as The Forest Rangers, King of Kensington and later, Due South.In 1985, he landed a role as the Amish grandfather in Witness, starring Harrison Ford. That opened the door to feature films and over the next 20 years he appeared in more than 40 films, including Dead of Winter, The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, One Magic Christmas, Deceived and Never Too Late. He earned a Genie Award for his role in the film Something About Love and a Gemini for best supporting actor in TV series Two Men. Rubes also won the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 1978, the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967 and the 1991 Earl Grey Award for lifetime achievement in television. In 1995, at the age of 75, Rubes starred in his first Broadway play, James Lapine's Twelve Dreams at the Lincoln Theatre Centre. Rubes was married to actress Susan Douglas, founder of Toronto's Young People's Theatre and former head of CBC radio drama. He is survived by his wife, sons Jonathan and Tony and three grandsons. He was predeceased by his son Christopher in 1996. Jan Rubes played the role of Hausierer Nathan in the 1992 French/Canadian TV western “By Way of the Stars”.

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