Memorable Manitobans: Jack Shapira (1926-2003)
Broadcaster, musician, producer.
Born at Winnipeg on 12 November 1926, he attended St. John’s High School, University of Manitoba, and University of Winnipeg, finally graduating with a Diploma in Television Production from New York City University. His career in media took him from CKXL (Calgary) to CFPA (Thunder Bay) where he was Program Director. In Winnipeg, he was Music Director at CKY and hosted the popular “teen” targeted Club House during the 1950s. He worked as producer, writer and performer for both CBC Radio and Television, most notably “The Show That Jack Built,” “Sit Back with Jack,” and returning to television in the early 1970s as host of “The Jack Shapira Show,” a live audience, evening talk show featuring controversial local, national and international guests. He was associated as well with CJOB, initially as host of a pilot evening talk show and laterally, as host of the Action Line. He was also a guest host on CKRCs phone-in program “In Touch With Today.” In 1962, he co-founded CJQM (later CFRW).
In his teens, he formed the dance band The Jack Shapira Orchestra. Over the years, he performed at local night clubs, concerts, major social events, radio and television, as well as backing local appearances of such stars as Liberace, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, the Mills Brothers, the Ames Brothers, Peggy Lee, and appearing as the house orchestra at various annual trade shows.
Between 1965 and 1987, under Shapira’s stewardship, Rainbow Stage Theatre reached an enviable level of fiscal viability and artistic growth, together with national and international recognition for its success. Jacks varied career also included the positions of Tour Director for the Metropolitan Operas Canadian Tour, and Executive Secretary and subsequently, President, of the Winnipeg Musicians Association, Local 190, AFofM. Among his numerous involvements with his community were a 10-year term as Director of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation and later the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation, Tourist and Convention Association of Manitoba, Sales and Advertising Club of Winnipeg, Executive Vice-President, Finance, Big Brothers Association of Greater Winnipeg Inc., a term as Director of CJUM-FM (University Radio) and a member of the board of the Manitoba School for Theatre and Allied Arts. He received a Manitoba Centennial Medal (1970) and a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977).
He died at Winnipeg on 6 October 2003 and was buried in the Hebrew Sick Benefit Cemetery.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 8 October 2003.
“Shapira lost the limelight, but his good lives on” by Morley Walker, Winnipeg Free Press, 11 October 2003, page C3.
We thank Owen Clark for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 1 June 2019