About Albert Samuel Waxman
Albert Samuel Waxman, CM, OOnt (March 2, 1935 – January 18, 2001) was a Canadian actor and director of over 1000 productions on radio, television, film, and stage. He is best known for his starring roles in the television series King of Kensington (CBC) and Cagney & Lacey (CBS).
Waxman was born in Toronto to Jewish immigrants from Poland.
His parents operated and owned Melinda Lunch, a small restaurant. His father, Aaron Waxman, died when Al was nine.
Waxman's career began at the age of twelve on CBC radio but it wasn't until 1975, when he began playing the role of Larry King on CBC's King of Kensington (1975–1980), that he became a Canadian icon.
In the 1980 award winning film Atlantic City starring Burt Lancaster, Waxman appeared as a rich cocaine buyer with a seemingly endless amount of cash.
During the 1980s Waxman starred as the gruff but endearing Lt Bert Samuels in the highly successful CBS television drama Cagney & Lacey (1982–1988).
During the 1990s Waxman appeared in a variety of films and television shows but began spending more time acting and directing in the theatre. In 1991 Al hosted Missing Treasures, a TV show which profiled missing children in Canada. He was also a founding member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
In 1997 he was awarded the best actor Gemini Award for his performance in the television film Net Worth.
Waxman also appeared at the Stratford Festival, beginning with his critically acclaimed performance as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in 1997. He also directed a memorable Anne Frank at the Stratford Festival in 2000. He was to return to Stratford for his highly anticipated portrayal of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in 2001. In the wake of Waxman's death one month before rehearsals were to begin Paul Soles accepted the part of Shylock and the play was performed in honour of Waxman.
His last television role was as celestial Judge Othneil in Twice in a Lifetime (1999–2001). The last episode on which he worked right up until the afternoon before his elective heart bypass surgery was about a man, popular in his community, who needed routine bypass surgery but died during the operation. Although some sections of the episode were rewritten, at the end of this final episode Waxman's character is asked rhetorically 'why do the good die young' to which he has no answer. He's then told 'you were quite a warrior'. His response - not merely the end of the episode, but one of Waxman's last lines ever recorded, and spoken with a smile of resignation from the heavens - was: 'I had my day'.
Throughout his career he responded to the need for his services in community work and was involved with charitable causes from coast to coast. He was spokesperson for organizations such as United Appeal, United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds, Variety Club, the Muscular Dystrophy Telethons, and Big Brothers (for which he also became an honorary member). From June 1979 to June 1981 he was the National Campaign Chairman for the Canadian Cancer Society, and from 1988-1989 he was an official spokesperson for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Together with his wife, Sara Waxman, he also created the Sara and Al Waxman Neo-Natal Unit at the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem.
Al Waxman was accorded many tributes for his volunteer and philanthropic work. In 1978 he was honoured with the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal. In 1989 he was the recipient of the B'nai Brith of Canada Humanitarian Award. In 1996 Waxman was inducted into the Order of Ontario and in 1997 into the Order of Canada. In 1998 he was given the Earle Grey Award for lifetime achievement in Canadian television. A statue erected for his popularity as a Canadian star actor, director, and humanitarian stands in Kensington Market. The inscription in front of it reads 'There's lots to do down the road, there's always more. Trust your gut instincts. In small matters trust your mind, but in the important decisions of life - trust your heart.'
He died in Toronto during heart surgery on January 18, 2001, at the age of 65. The Toronto neighbourhood that his starring role in King of Kensington made famous, Kensington Market, erected a memorial to Waxman following his death.
Musician Jaymz Bee of the Bee People, (prior to his work with The Look People, The Royal Jelly Orchestra and various projects) was a founder of the Al Waxman Fan Club. The Fan Club began in 1984 following the heyday of the King of Kensington television show. Bee, his associates Clay Tyson (son of Ian and Sylvia), Bazl Salazar, Bruce J. Scott and artist Max MacDonald would host parties and write songs in honour of Waxman. They even created a dance called "The Waxman Wiggle". Some other Bee People songtitles included: "Have Al Instead", "Al or Nothing", "UniversAl" and "Puff, The Waxman Poodle". While the Fan Club initially appeared to be a publicity stunt, this led to a long and successful association between Jaymz Bee and Al Waxman. Waxman attended some of the Fan Club events as organised by Bee, most of which raised money for charities such as The Canadian Cancer Foundation and Big Brother. Bee attended Waxman's funeral, and joined with his Fan Club to hold a wake in Toronto on 25 January 2001. They had a New Orleans-style funeral march with a jazz band and paraded from The Cameron House to Kensington Market where they recorded his hit TV theme song with Vezi Tayyeb at Kensington Sound. The AWFC boasted over 1,000 card carrying members and while the bulk of members were from Toronto, some were as far away as Japan and Africa. President Bee received a terse reply from Buckingham Palace however, notifying him that The Queen does not "join a fan club". Al Waxman realized over the years that this organization, while appearing tongue in cheek, was a group of bonafide fans who enjoyed celebrating "the King of Canada". Members of the now dormant AWFC can still be seen wandering through Kensington Market to shake the hand of the Al Waxman statue that resides there.
1959: Sun In My Eyes 1962: The War Lover 1963: The Victors 1968: Isabel 1970: The Last Act of Martin Weston 1974: Vengeance Is Mine 1975: The Clown Murders 1975: My Pleasure is my Business 1979: Wild Horse Hank 1980: Atlantic City 1980: Double Negative 1981: Heavy Metal (voice only) 1981: Tulips 1982: Class of 1984 1983: Spasms 1987: Meatballs III 1988: Switching Channels 1989: Collision Course 1989: Malarek 1989: Millennium 1990: Mob Story 1991: Cerro Torre: Scream of Stone 1991: The Hitman 1991: White Light[disambiguation needed ] 1992: Black Death 1992: Live Wire 1992: The Diamond Fleece 1994: Death Junction 1994: Operation Golden Phoenix 1995: Net Worth (TV film)Net Worth 1995: Iron Eagle IV 1996: Bogus 1997: The Assignment 1997: Critical Care 1998: At the End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story 1998: Summer's End 1999: The Hurricane
1975-1980: King of Kensington 1981: Circus International 1982-1988: Cagney & Lacey 1990-1991: Missing Treasures 1997: Simply Wine and Cheese 1999-2001: Twice in a Lifetime
1965: For the People 1969: Adventures in Rainbow Country 1979, 1983-1984: The Littlest Hobo 1985: Night Heat 1986: Philip Marlowe, Private Eye 1988: My Secret Identity 1988: Street Legal 1988-1989: Alfred Hitchcock Presents 1989: Hard Time on Planet Earth 1989: Murder, She Wrote 1993: Sweating Bullets 1994: They Eat Horses, Don't They? 1996: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective 1998: Due South 1998: Twitch City 1998-2000: Power Play
1961: The Hired Gun 1963: Man in the Middle 1967: Do Not Fold, Staple, Or Spindle, Or Mutilate 1967: Counter Etiquette. Part 1 1970: The Last Act of Martin Weston 1971: When Michael Calls 1972: The Sloane Affair 1974: A Star is Lost! 1979: Please Don't Eat the Planet (voice only) 1979: Intergalactic Thanksgiving (voice only) 1981: Cagney & Lacey (pilot TV movie) 1988: The Return of Ben Casey 1990: Maggie's Secret 1990: Back to the Beanstalk 1991: I Still Dream of Jeannie 1992: Quiet Killer 1992: The Diamond Fleece 1992: Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story 1992: The Trial of Red Riding Hood 1994: Cagney & Lacey: The Return 1994: Web of Deceit 1994: I Know My Son Is Alive 1994: Death Junction 1995: The Shamrock Conspiracy 1996: Gotti 1996: Holiday Affair 1997: Rescuers: Stories of Courage 1998: Naked City: A Killer at Christmas 1999: In the Company of Spies 1999: A Saintly Switch 1999: Unforgettable: 100 Years Remembered 2000: The Ride 2000: The Thin Blue Lie 2000: Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (released posthumously) 2000: What Makes a Family (released posthumously) 2000: Messiah From Montreal (released posthumously)