Al Waxman - Cineplex Legends Inductee
2016 cineplex legends inductee
Across Canada, Al Waxman will always be known as “the King.” His career began on CBC children’s radio in 1949. After the introduction of television to Canada in 1952, he appeared in CBC television dramas. Waxman completed more than 1000 radio, television, film and theatre productions as either actor or director. Lauded for his pre-eminent role in crafting Canada’s cultural coming of age, he was often referred to as Canada’s cultural ambassador and a national treasure.
King of Kensington is the most successful Canadian television series to date, and at one time had such cultural impact that some viewers who were new to Canada learned to speak English by watching it. A statue of Waxman’s likeness stands in Toronto's Kensington Market. Waxman also starred in the award winning CBS TV series Cagney & Lacey, the CanWest Global series Missing Treasures and the PaxNet/CTV series Twice in a Lifetime. He appeared in films in both Canada and the United States, from Atlantic City to Hurricane. In 1979, he co-wrote a pop single called “Gotta Hear You Say It Too," and in 1999 wrote the best selling autobiography That’s What I Am.
His theatrical experience included off-Broadway in New York, West End of London, local and regional theatres across Ontario, New England, and repertory theatres in England, the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, and the Stratford Festival, where he was acclaimed in both Canadian and International reviews for his outstanding performance as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, and his bold directorship of The Diary of Anne Frank.
He received 10 industry nominations for acting excellence (including Emmy, Gemini, Bijoux, ACTRA and Clio awards). He won the ACTRA award for best actor for his roles in King of Kensington and The Winnings of Frankie Walls. In 1997, he received a Gemini award for best supporting actor for his performance in Net Worth. In 1998, he was presented with the Earl Grey Lifetime Achievement Award for his enormous body of work and contributions to Canadian film and television. As director, The American Women in Film awarded him the Luminas Award for his direction of an episode of Cagney & Lacey, he received the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for directing Cagney & Lacey and, in 1989, he was honoured with the Scott Newman Award for his direction of Maggie’s Secret, for which he also received an Emmy nomination. In 1992, the series Missing Treasures, which he co-executive produced, co-directed and hosted, was honoured by the Houston International Film Festival and received the Gold Award for best public affairs program.
Waxman actively supported young independent artists, and never shied away from speaking out on important union issues. He served two consecutive terms as Vice President of the Directors’ Guild of Canada, was a founding member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, was appointed to the Founder’s Council of the Canadian Film Centre in 1983 and in 1988 was elected Chair of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television to which he was re-elected four more consecutive terms. He was an Adjunct Professor of Theatre & Film at York University from 1986 to 1996. He served on the Board of Directors of the Stratford Festival, and was also a member of the Festival Senate. In 1997, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Ontario Film Development Corporation.
An avid spokesperson for the United Appeal, the United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds, B’nai Brith and the Variety Club, he was also the national campaign chairperson for the Canadian Cancer Society, Campaign Chairperson of St. Stephen’s Community House in Toronto and the official spokesperson for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario. For his volunteer and philanthropic work, he was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1978. In 1980, he was presented with the Metro Toronto Community Involvement Award, named Honorary Big Brother for Life and Spiritual Father of the Year by the Pioneer Women of Canada. In 1984, the Canadian Foundation of the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem instituted the Al and Sara Waxman Centre for Maternal and Fetal Medicine. In 1989 he was the recipient of the B’nai Brith of Canada Humanitarian Award. That same year the B’nai Brith also established the Sara and Al Waxman Audio/Visual Library in their Human Rights Centre in Toronto. The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force made him Honourary Police Chief. In 1996 he was awarded the Order of Ontario, and in 1997, the Order of Canada.
Under the stage lights he was a star, but he was so much bigger than that. Al Waxman was a rebel and a dreamer, unabashedly proud to be Canadian, proud of his Jewish heritage, a devoted husband and a loving and doting father.