Monday, August 21, 2006
When it rains, it pours.
A mere twenty-four hours after Mr. Gignac, another one of father's old favorites joined both Mr. Gignac and Dad "dans l'au-delà" - a veteran of stage and cabarets and all-around funnyman, Claude Blanchard.
He sang, he drank, he was a ladies' man and he remained likeable through all that - even when he'd be playing a baddie. He could, verily, do it all - and such a career is an inspiration to anyone else who'd aspire to but a fraction of what Mr. Blanchard accomplished.
Yet, in the end, like Johnny Cash sang so eloquently near his own end, we can build but an empire of dirt on this Earth - nothing is forever down here.
The soul is forever - and it does not belong here. Hence, the end is the true beginning. Amen to that.
I admit not to be very familiar with Claude Blanchard's singing repertoire - maybe he had as deep a body of work there as Mr. Cash did - he sure had the same type of voice. If Fernand Gignac was his country's Bing Crosby, then Claude Blanchard was some kind of Johnny Cash in his own inimitable way. Blanchard was better known as a funny guy though - and that is how I liked him best. He had an unparalleled flair to tell a joke like a storyteller should - not hurrying to the punchline one bit. He had flair for the dramatic; as the newsflash below indicates, he had been playing a "serious part" on the daily soap "Virginie" for over a decade already, opposite the refined lady Monique Chabot, who shall surely miss him much as she will now be playing a widowed character, most assuredly.
(There are many ways to deal with a cast member's sudden demise in real life on such shows, but the best course of action for the author of such a show remains to "write it in" into the show's storyline - and not to re-cast the part at all. Doing this reflects the respect one had for the actor who has died - showing without a shadow of a doubt that he was irreplaceable, which he is.)
Another giant gone - and these are never replaceable.
No one can fill the shoes of a Fernand Gignac - not Bruno Landry, not Bruno Pelletier! No one can fill the shoes of a Claude Blanchard - not Guy A. Lepage, not Guy Jodoin and certainly not the would-be irreverent Claude Legault...
Those of you who have no idea who this new crop of "artistes" are - consider yourselves blessed!
I encourage you to discover the recently-departed ones though - whether Gignac's recordings or Blanchard's television and movie roles, most notably in the 70s film "Gina".
Below is the newsbrief alluded to earlier... I notice discrepancies between it and some telecast news; in the brief, it is said that he was released from intensive care and an unidentified hospital altogether... While, on TV, it was said that he died at the hospital, not at home. Ultimately, the stage upon which we make our exit is not important. Knowing him as I do, Mr. Blanchard made good on his chance to go out in style - he had known that his days were numbered for a while now. We are all thespians in the theater of Life - we may not choose when or how we make our exits (that job belongs to the Director/Metteur En Scène...!) but we will be the ones delivering the "performance"... Dignity and panache are a must then, you will all agree.
One final note: Blanchard is pronounced "Blahh-charr" - skip the "d" at the end. St. Peter will, when he greets him at the Gates... ;)
Mise à jour le dimanche 20 août 2006 à 11 h 29
Décès de Claude Blanchard
Claude Blanchard, qui avait subi un infarctus, le 4 août dernier, lors d'une intervention chirurgicale destinée à lui enlever un poumon en raison d'un cancer, est décédé, dimanche, à son domicile d'un autre infarctus.
Le comédien et chanteur de 74 ans, qui incarnait depuis maintenant 11 ans le personnage de Pierre Boivin, dans la populaire série Virginie, avait déjà été opéré, ces dernières années, pour un cancer de la prostate et un anévrisme.
M. Blanchard était sorti des soins intensifs d'un hôpital montréalais vendredi dernier.