Thursday, July 23, 2009

RIP - Les Lye

A true Canadian icon is gone; Les Lye passed away on Tuesday at the age of 84.

Lye was
known the world over as the adult star of classic kids show You Can't Do That on Television, on which he played numerous roles, notably floor director Ross and hygienically challenged chef Barth. An entire generation of children the world over watched the show, which featured characters being slimed from above if they said "I don't know" or drenched in water if said "water". Conceived as a sort of Laugh-In for kids, it was renowned for its anarchic and cheesy sense of humour and bold concepts. The series ran for an amazing eleven years, from 1979 to 1990.

this was not Lye's only success, for he was also a legendary presence on Canadian radio as well. In the late 1940s he began working at Ottawa's CFRA station, alongside a then-little known impersonator named Rich Little. Lye and Little were close, with Lye appearing on Little's first comedy album, My Fellow Canadians. Lye would gain a large following on the station, but in 1961 he left radio to start working at CJOH, a local Ottawa TV station.

1966, he teamed with Bill Luxton to create and star in the comedic kids show Willy & Floyd. Originally just a format to introduce Saturday morning cartoons, the show was a hit and soon expanded to a full half hour. It was syndicated nationally, and would run for an incredible 22 years, from 1966 to 1988.

Of his friend, Rich Little said: He was as good as anybody in the (United) States. I used to tell him, ‘If you want to leave Ottawa, I can get you a job.’ But he never wanted to leave Ottawa.

Ottawa Citizen has a nice look at Lye's life. Here's a look at Lye in action as Ross:

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