The CBC says longtime comedian Dave Broadfoot, known for his wit on the network’s Royal Canadian Air Farce, has died at the age of 90.
Broadfoot was born on Dec. 5, 1925 and began acting shortly after serving in the navy during the Second World War. He appeared on the small screen in the 1950’s in the Wayne and Shuster Show and the Big Revue and made his way to CBC Radio with the comedic show Funny You should Say That.
He honed his act in an embryonic Canadian entertainment industry, playing all manner of gigs from coffee shops, restaurants and clubs, producing his own variety-style cabarets or appearing at established festivals like Stratford or the Spring Thaw, the annual revue of performers that ran in Toronto for a quarter century beginning in the late 1960s.
He laid the groundwork for a future generation of Canadian comedians and performers, bringing shows with such titles as Take a Beaver to Lunch to the people. Upon meeting John Cleese of Monty Python fame in the late 1970s, according to a newspaper account, the British comedian immediately remembered Broadfoot for his Clap Hands show, which had toured England in the early 1960s.
Those efforts as a pioneer were recognized by Canadian Comedy Awards organizers, who named their Comedic Genius award after Broadfoot.
Broadfoot left Toronto in the mid-1960s to make his professional base in Montreal, inspired by the amount of work as the city’s cultural scene expanded around the time of Expo 67 — which included the CBC show based in the city, Funny You Should Say That — as well as a relationship that led to marriage.
Broadfoot was a fixture on CBC shows long before his tenure on Air Farce, on television with the Big Revue and the Wayne and Shuster Show beginning in the 1950s, and on radio the following decade with Funny You Should Say That.
Broadfoot also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and toured in revues across the country and in the United States and England.
In 1973 Broadfoot began a 15-year-run on Air Farce, where he became known for characters such as the honourable member for Kicking Horse Pass: Sgt. Renfrew of the RCMP who “never gets his man” and a hockey-playing dunce named Big Bobby Clobber.
Broadfoot won numerous awards from a Juno Award for comedy, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and was named an officer of the Order of Canada.