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Subject: Canadian Actor Bill Luxton


Author:
Dies at 92
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Date Posted: Thursday, July 18, 08:00:52am

Bill Luxton was an Ottawa television pioneer

The weekend brought a sudden and surprising end to the life of Bill Luxton, an Ottawa television pioneer from an era when hosts were smooth-talking men in suits and production was a live, unpredictable, often local affair.

Best-known as the first half of the Willy and Floyd comedy team, Luxton was found lifeless at the bottom of his backyard pool on Brierwood Avenue in Highland Park on Saturday evening. He was 92.

“Oh God, it was such a shocker,” said longtime friend Gord Atkinson, 92, once a fixture at CFRA. “We were such great buddies.”

Luxton’s son, also named Bill, said the family had a birthday party that afternoon on Brierwood, after which his father decided to have a swim in the backyard — one of his first of the season.

When he hadn’t returned in half an hour or so, his wife Toots (born Agnes) called her son and a niece to come and investigate. (She has mobility issues.) His robe and flip-flops were discovered poolside and, within a few moments, he was located at the bottom in his bathing trunks. He could not be revived. A heart attack or other dire physical crisis is suspected.

“He had been in excellent health,” said his son Bill, 65, though his father had overcome prostate cancer and had cardiac bypass surgery in 1998. He had an active retirement, doing his own yard work, golfing, acting, travelling, playing pool and singing regularly with the Grey Jazz Big Band.

“He was in vibrant health up until the day he died.”

Luxton had a long, varied career and worked with generations of television personalities and reporters, including one-time American anchor Peter Jennings and legendary impressionist Rich Little. He did a great deal of voice-over work, was active in local theatre and was deeply involved in the heyday of in-house production at CJOH.

Not only did the Willy and Floyd show remain on air for 22 years, but Luxton also somehow had time to host the fondly-remembered Amazing Kreskin and a daily magazine show.

“Twelve-hour days were nothing for him,” said his son, youngest of two children. “I don’t think he looked at his work as work. He just loved what he was doing.”

Like so many of his generation, war marked his early years. Born in Toronto in 1927 of English parents — his father was a carpenter and First World War vet — Bill and his family returned to London, where they endured The Blitz during the early 1940s. Bill joined the British Army at 18 and spent time in the signal corps, beginning in 1945.

His experiences as a teenage actor led him to the forces broadcasting system, where he trained as an operator and announcer. He spent six months in Germany and two years in Libya, re-settling in Canada after his discharge in 1948.

Post-war, the only job he could find was as a junior announcer in Port Arthur, now part of Thunder Bay. By chance, he met Toots there and the couple remained married for 69 years, including nearly 60 in the same house.

Luxton, a graduate of Lorne Greene’s broadcasting school in Toronto, eventually got a job at CKWS in Kingston in 1954, where he created the character Uncle Willy for a children’s cartoon show. He moved to Ottawa as one of the first employees at CJOH, which went on the air in 1961.

It was there that Uncle Willy teamed with Floyd, the goofball character created by the rubber-faced Les Lye, and the pair — ad-libbing a good deal of their efforts — would help amuse a generation of children in zany wigs and clown-like costumes.

“I’d like to be remembered for the more serious things I did,” he once said of his Willy days, upon receiving a lifetime achievement award from Ottawa’s ACTRA chapter.

“But as long as they remember you.”

Because of his English roots, Luxton was good at accents, which served him well in theatrical productions like Shaw’s Pygmalion, for which he won a best actor award at the Ottawa Little Theatre, where he was once a board member.

“Bill was an ultimate professional and a terrific guy, a great pal and a great friend,” said Atkinson, who spoke to Luxton only days before his death. “He did a lot of radio with me and I did a lot of television with him.”

The couples often socialized, taking regular vacations to Europe and Asia.

Bill said his father was every bit the gentle, well-mannered man that viewers saw on television. “He was a very caring man. He really did care about the community and was kind and generous to people.”

He is survived by Toots, daughter Susan, son Bill Jr. and two grandchildren. Details of the memorial service are still being worked out.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/egan-bill-luxton-was-an-ottawa-television-pioneer

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