Jane Mallett

London, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada
Death 14 Apr 1984 (aged 84)
Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Burial London, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada
Memorial ID 203646825 View Source
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Actress, Comedian. She was a popular Canadian actress on radio, television, film, and stage in a career that spanned almost 60 years. She also performed extensively in radio dramas on CBC Radio with such greats as Andrew Allan, John Drainie, and Barry Morse, and was known for being able to portray many different characters in a single show. She is best remembered for her portrayals of motherly, grandmotherly, or old lady types in her films including the comedies, "Love At First Sight" (1977), which also starred Dan Aykroyd, and "Nothing Personal" (1980), which also starred Donald Sutherland and Suzanne Somers. She also played 'Mrs. Whibley' in two episodes of the classic Canadian television series, "King Of Kensington," in 1975, which also starred Al Waxman. She was born to Clifford Benjamin Keenleyside and his wife Emily Isabel Day Keenleyside on April 17, 1899, in London, Ontario, as Jean Dawson Keenleyside, and was raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. She began her acting career while an undergraduate at Victoria College at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, and at the Hart House Theatre while using the stage name of Miss J.D. Keenleyside. In 1921, she was offered the leading role in Arnold Bennett's "The Great Adventure" at the Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario. It was during this play that she played opposite an actor named Frederick Mallett who would end up becoming her husband of over 50 years. During the 1920s she adopted the stage name of Jane Aldworth, and she worked continually, playing a diverse selection of roles including ingenues and duchesses at American stock companies operating in Toronto, Ontario, at the time. During the 1930s she acted with the Actors' Colony Theatre in Bala, Ontario, with the Hart House Players Club, and appeared as 'Viola' in "Twelfth Night," for which performance she won the Dominion Drama Festival Best Actress Award in 1936. She also began in comedy, writing and performing "Town Tonics," a two-player revue, from 1934 to 1945, and which earned her the nickname 'Canada's funniest housewife.' She also appeared in several other revues throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, most memorably with the New Play Society's famous annual topical revue, Spring Thaw. She performed in seven Thaws between 1948 and 1955, with a veritable who's who of Canadian comic talent, one of whom, Don Harron, called her "the funniest home-grown Canadian since Bea Lillie." Her work in radio earned her the nickname “the girl with a thousand voices” due to her talent for portraying multiple characters during one show most notably on the sitcom "Travels With Aunt Jane," which was written for her. She eventually changed her stage name from Jane Aldworth to her married name of Jane Mallett. She made her actual film debut in British film director Fergus McDonell's short film, "The Yellow Leaf" (1956). Besides, "The Yellow Leaf" (1956), "Love At First Sight" (1977), "Nothing Personal" (1980), her many other film credits include, "Savage Justice" (1967), "The Megantic Outlaw" (1971), "All The Way Home" (1971), "Sweet Movie" (1974), "The Canary" (1975), "20 Shades Of Pink" (1976), and "Improper Channels" (1981). Besides, "King Of Kensington," her many other television credits include, "Playbill," "First Performance," "On Camera," "The Unforeseen," "Folio," "R.C.M.P.," "Startime," "Encounter," "Shoestring Theatre," "Quest," "Playdate," "Scarlett Hill," "Time Of Your Life," "The Wednesday Play," "Seaway," "Festival," "Cool Million," "The Collaborators," "The New Avengers," "The Great Detective," "and "The Littlest Hobo." Her last role was as 'Dr. Martha' in the comedy film, "Utilities" in 1983. During her career, she also appeared regularly on stage at the Shaw Festival of Canada and the Stratford Festival of Canada. In 1958, she co-founded what is known today as the Actors' Fund of Canada, which provides emergency financial assistance to arts professionals. She served as the First President of the Actors' Fund of Canada until her death in 1984. Her honors include being a recipient of the Brenda Donahue Award for Outstanding Contribution to Canadian Theatre, ACTRA's John Drainie Award for Distinguished Contribution to Broadcasting and was awarded the prestigious C.M (Member of the Order of Canada) for her services to theatre in Canada on June 25, 1975. She passed away from emphysema in her native London, Ontario, on April 14, 1984, three days before what would have been her 85th birthday. She was buried with her husband Frederick (who passed away in 1980) at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Crematorium in London, Ontario. The St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto, Ontario, was renamed the Jane Mallett Theatre in her memory in 1985.

Bio by: Kris 'Peterborough K' Peterson


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