Gisele MacKenzie

Gisele MacKenzie, born Gisèle LaFlèche, actress (born at Winnipeg 10 Jan 1927; died Burbank, Ca 5 Sep 2003). Gisèle LaFlèche, sometimes known as "Canada's first lady of song," began in show business playing the violin in Winnipeg and on a scholarship at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. However, she turned from a promising career as a concert violinist in 1946 to popular music. Blessed with a beautiful voice and perfect pitch, she sang and played violin with a dance band led by Bob Shuttleworth, whom she would marry and divorce. From 1946 to 1950 she hosted the CBC radio show Meet Gisèle and recorded several albums. The NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA released a 10-minute short featuring her singing 3 songs in a variety of styles in 1951.

She moved to the US in 1950, and for professional reasons took her father's second given name and became known to American radio and television audiences as Gisele MacKenzie. She sang with the Percy Faith orchestra in New York City and later moved to Los Angeles, where she sang with Bob Crosby (Bing Crosby's brother) on CBS TV's Club 15. In 1953 she began a long association with the comedian Jack Benny, who was also a skilled violin player, although it was a running gag that he played poorly. The 2 would perform comic duets together on his syndicated radio show and on tour.

From 1953 to 1957, Gisele MacKenzie was one of the regular vocalists on NBC's Your Hit Parade, performing popular songs in a half-hour variety format. She received 2 Emmy nominations for best female singer, in 1955 and 1956. She continued to record albums and had a minor chart hit with "Hard to Get" in 1955. In 1957 she was given her own short-lived variety show on NBC, and in 1963 she appeared regularly on The Sid Caesar Show. She also toured frequently with summer stock productions of popular musicals such as South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, The King and I and Hello Dolly. In the late 1980s she returned to television for guest appearances on Murder She Wrote, MacGyver and Boy Meets World.