Wednesday 29 July 2020

Gisele MacKenzie's Horse Play

There’s a down side to fame. Yes, you get lots of money and a comfortable life. But you can also attract leeches and kooks.

The 1950s were a more innocent time is the conclusion of many people who were never there. Perhaps it’s true in some ways. Today we hear about stalkers who are dangerous. Way-back-when, they were, well, just eccentric.

Here are some examples cited by one of Canada’s singing exports to the U.S.—Gisele MacKenzie. She had her biggest fame on the American side of the line in the ‘50s, appearing on stage with Jack Benny, smoothly singing on Your Hit Parade and even having her own network show. She also had to deal with obsessed men, as revealed in this story that appeared in newspapers of May 16, 1958. Unfortunately, the ending leaves readers hanging in mid-air.
Follows Gisele All Over.

International News Service.
HOLLYWOOD—Gisele MacKenzie, since her emergence as a national celebrity, has found a lot of wonderful people in the world but a lot of crackpots, too. "There was the time," she laughed, "that some guy followed me all over the country just so he could pop out from behind the potted palms and yell, 'boo, I'm here.'
"So he's here," she said, "so I didn't even know this guy!"
This amorous character became such a nuisance that the cops chased him out of Las Vegas during one of Gisele's engagements there. But that didn't stop him. When the singing star left for Canada, he hopped into his trusty auto—dressed in pink bermuda shorts yet—and chugged all the way to Winnipeg just to "surprise" her.
"He did too," she grinned, "and he surprised the cops too who chased him out of town again!"
Then there was the old farm hand, who, completely smitten by Gisele, wrote and told her he loved her and in fact had decided to marry her—all she had to do was set the date.
But then he heard her sing a sexy song and wrote furiously: "The deal is off. You are obviously a woman of the world and I don't think you'd made a good wife after all. However, I feel I owe you something, so I'm going to send you my horse!"
Gisele said he enclosed a picture of the animal a sway-backed, rawboned nag that had all the earmarks of having ploughed its last furrow.
"The horse never arrived," she added, "and you can imagine how sad I was."
One of the worst experiences that ever befell Gisele concerned a Wall Street tycoon who had delusions of marriage with the singer to the point where he wrote her passionate letters telling her it was all right for them to wed and that his wife had even agreed to a $300,000 settlement!
"I never met this guy either," she declared. "And after that, I didn't want to."
Romantically speaking, no more suitors need apply. Gisele is all sewed up—with her brand new husband, Bob Shuttleworth, who she says, won her in a raffle!
No doubt when Gisele faded from TV screens, the obsessive fans faded away, too. Gisele wasn’t bothered when others took over the spotlight. She had a family.

Here’s a Vancouver Sun “Where are they now”-type story about Gisele MacKenzie from the April 24, 1971 edition. Her brother Georges was living on the West Coast where he became an executive with the CBC French-language operations. We doubt he was ever stalked by fans but the darndest things happen in broadcasting.
Gisele: no postcard mother
"Go find out whatever happened to Gisele MacKenzie" is what the orders were for an interview at CBUT, where she was waiting out a pre-rehearsal period before doing two guest appearances with The Irish Rovers.
Well, the answer is that nothing has happened to Gisele MacKenzie that doesn't happen to people in show business.
After all, it's been 20 years since Gisele left Canada for New York and Hollywood and she isn't up here now to fill any Canadian content for the CBC, because she's been a U.S. citizen for the past decade.
She was married to her agent, Bob Shuttleworth, for seven years, and five years ago they divorced. She has two children, Mackenzie, who's 10, and Gigi, who's nine.
And because she decided not to be a "postcard mother," Gisele MacKenzie passed up big-time stardom, settling for good and steady work that kept her as close as possible to her Encino, Calif., home.
She's just finished starring in Mame and today, after a reunion with singing brother George LaFleche and his family, she flew south to put the final touches to her syndicated TV show, and to do more recordings, theatre, musical comedy, TV commercials. And movies. "I belong there," the tall, positive-thinking Miss MacKenzie declared between bites from a hamburger.
In came George LaFleche, who admitted he got his first singing job in Toronto because he was Gisele's brother. "And I was terrible," he exclaimed. He's still Gisele's brother, but it doesn't bother him anymore. He's proud of his sister.
Their close relationship goes all the way back to Winnipeg when Gisele took violin lessons and George played the cello. The difference was she enjoyed her music, overcame her laziness, and was forced to work hard.
She and George compared notes on dogs and children and he came off second best again, because Gisele, the actress, knew how to put over her harrowing experiences as a mother whose offspring refuse to practise piano.
"They knew how to play, especially Mac. But it got so that they were unlearning everything. I had to go out of the house because I couldn't stand to listen to them play.
"I got a brainwave. It was, I thought, like taking medals away from a soldier. I said, ‘I am going to deprive you of your piano lessons; I want you never to insult my piano again by putting your hands on it.’"
Then she ripped up reams of sheet music and that was that.
"I wasn't going to waste any more money. And it wasn't worth the aggravation," the singing star concluded.
"Did it work?" asked brother George.
"No. They practically cheered," replied mother Gisele.
Having described herself as a strict disciplinarian—and that includes dishing out corporal punishment—Miss MacKenzie said she's going to have to think up something new.
She used to say to them, Okay, no watching TV for a week.
That used to hurt. But not now. It's a relief not watching television for a week.
Just about then she cleared the dressing room to change, first going over some fresh repartee with brother George, because they discovered Channel 2's Irish Rovers' Show has been sold to the U.S. and nobody down there knows that Gisele MacKenzie and George LaFleche are related.
And that was the last seen of Gisele MacKenzie until May 10 and May 17, when her two guest shots will be aired.
By the way. You really want to know what's happened to Gisele MacKenzie? She sings better than she ever did.
Gisele died in 2003. She survived both the trappings and downsides of fame, even though she never did get a horse out of it.

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