Jackie Rae

Singer, songwriter and entertainer


John Arthur Rae (Jackie Rae), television host, singer and songwriter: born Winnipeg, Manitoba 14 May 1922; DFC 1943; CM 2001; four times married (three sons, one daughter); died Toronto, Ontario 5 October 2006.

The entertainer Jackie Rae loved every aspect of show business - he hosted such television favourites as Spot the Tune and The Golden Shot, was a popular recording artist and wrote the standard "Happy Heart".

In the 1960s, the comedian Bob Monkhouse was impressed by the German game show Der Goldene Schuss and suggested to ATV that they should produce a UK version. The ATV boss Lew Grade had seen a comedy routine with Charlie Drake joking with Rae and considered Rae ideal for The Golden Shot - although he didn't realise that the exchange between Drake and Rae was not spontaneous but scripted.

The programme, based on the William Tell story, was promoted as a live programme: a crossbow was attached to a camera and contestants would instruct a blindfolded cameraman on how to hit the target - "Up a little. Stop. Down a little." They would telephone their instructions whilst watching the screen at home or from a booth in the studio. To start the game, Rae would say, "Heinz, the bolt", summoning Heinz Schmid, who had come from Germany to oversee the programme. Monkhouse, however, thought Rae was humourless and, when asked to be a celebrity guest, he sabotaged the proceedings by taking over the show. As a result, Rae's contract was terminated and the programme became a tremendous success under Monkhouse's auspices.

Rae was born in Winnipeg in 1922. He worked in variety from the age of three, performing with his brother and sister as the Three Little Raes of Sunshine. In his teens, he developed into a competent popular singer, but he then enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He flew Spitfires during the Second World War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943. He also married for the first time.

After the war, he produced radio series for the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) featuring the singer Gisele McKenzie and the comedians Wayne and Shuster, but he enjoyed performing himself and in 1956 had his own successful TV variety showcase, The Jackie Rae Show. The bland show attracted controversy when a knife-throwing act was followed, off camera, by a thud and a scream. Rae announced, "The show will be four minutes short, but that's show business." Although this was a stunt, the phone lines were jammed with complaints.

In 1958, Rae moved to London, and made a good start, hosting his own variety show and appearing on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The following year, the well-groomed performer hosted ITV's Spot the Tune. Contestants had to recognise a song from a few notes of music, usually performed by Marion Ryan: if they claimed, "I'll name that tune in two", they were given two notes. It was an era of popular quiz shows and its viewing figure of five million homes was not far short of Double Your Money, Take Your Pick and Dotto. During the 1970s, but without Rae, the show was revived as Name That Tune.

Rae was a soft-voiced singer, best suited to romantic ballads. Although he never had a hit record, he made several singles including "More Than Ever" (1958) and "Theme From a Summer Place" (1960). He took part in the 1961 Royal Variety Performance. In 1959 Rae married Janette Scott, the actress daughter of Thora Hird, but they divorced in 1965 and Scott went on to marry the singer Mel Tormé.

In 1962, Rae realised he had an aptitude for songwriting. His best-known song, "Happy Heart", was recorded by Andy Williams in 1969 and there are scores of other versions. Rae's "Please Don't Go" was a Top Ten hit in 1969 for the veteran performer Donald Peers, then 60 years old. "We couldn't think of what to write for him," Les Reed, Rae's co-writer on "Please Don't Go", recalls, "so we stole a classic and wrote a lyric to it, 'Please Don't Go'. I'm fairly sure we took it from Saint-Saëns." Reed and Rae wrote several more songs together including "When There's No You", recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck. Another of Rae's songs, "Dream Just a Dream", was recorded by Tony Bennett.

In 1976, Rae went to Toronto and continued to work in radio and television. In 1981, he revived the big band sound with the Spitfire Band: Mickey Erbe was bandleader, he was vocalist and compere.

Spencer Leigh

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?