Memorable Manitobans: Gisele MacKenzie (1927-2003)
Singer, musician, actor.
Born Marie Marguerite Louisa Gisele Lafleche at Winnipeg on 10 January 1927, one of five children of pianist Marietta Manseau (?-?) and physician Georges MacKenzie Lafleche (1894-1969), she began to study piano under her mother at the age of three, then violin at seven, and gave her first public violin recital at 12. For six years starting in 1941, she studied violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. During the Second World War, she sang and played violin for Canadian troops then had her own CBC radio show “Meet Gisele”.
In 1951, she adopted her father’s middle name as her surname and moved to Los Angeles, California to sing on the “Club 15” radio show with Bob Crosby, also appearing with Edgar Bergen and Morton Downey, and as a featured performer on “The Mario Lanza Show”. She performed on television’s “Your Hit Parade” from 1953 to 1957 and was a regular guest with Jack Benny on his television show as well as touring with him. She became a naturalized American citizen in 1955. She was the host of “The Gisele MacKenzie Show” from 1957 to 1958 and played Sid Caesar’s wife on “The Sid Caesar Show” from 1963 to 1964.
On 24 February 1958, she married her manager Robert J. “Bob” Shuttleworth (1914-?) at Las Vegas, Nevada and they had two children. After divorcing him in 1966, she married Robert F. Klein in 1975. That marriage ended in divorce too.
She died at Burbank, California on 5 September 2003.
“Gisele MacKenzie, in new TV show, rich in talent,” Findlay Republican Courier, 10 October 1963, page 28.
Obituary [Georges MacKenzie LaFleche], Winnipeg Free Press, 25 September 1969, page 16.
“Violin started career for Gisele MacKenzie,” Detroit Free Press, 28 May 1990.
“Winnipeg-born TV star dies at 76,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 September 2003, page D4.
Obituary [Janine Marie Yvonne Helzer], Winnipeg Free Press, 19 May 2012, page 54.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 21 January 2021