Memorable Manitobans: Leonard (Len) Andree (1930-2017), Entertainer.
Len Andree was born in Winnipeg on March 2, 1930. He was the third child of Polish immigrants Paulin Thadeus Andree and Mary Andree. He lived on Boyd Avenue in Winnipeg’s storied North End. He married Lois, his high school sweetheart and the love of his life. They moved to East Kildonan and finally to Southdale.
He counted among his many friends former sports broadcaster Bob Picken sports media icon and another Winnipeg legend, award-winning actor and producer Len Cariou. In his younger days he worked at Canadian Pacific Rail while entertaining on the side. He started out as a professional clown, doing impressions, pantomime and vaudeville characters eventually breaking into both stage performing at Rainbow Stage and then radio and television. He soon started his own talent agency, Andree Productions, booking and promoting countless acts including singers, clowns and popular bands of the time. One such upstart was a young performer Ray St. Germain.
Always the consummate entertainer, Len sang in the same barbershop quartet for 30 years. He emceed at the Red River Exhibition for 39 years and performed in Schmockey Night for 35 years. He originated Breakfast with Santa at the downtown location of the Hudson’s Bay Company for 39 years! He was a founding member of and Past Chief Barker the Variety Club Tent 58 for 35 years. On top of that he managed the R/V Show for 27 years and hosted Octoberfest for 15. He was a prolific and sought after emcee for countless events in the city including the brand opening of the Centennial Concert Hall. In recognition for his community service he was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
Len was always creative and imaginative in all he did. His quick wit and delivery made him an excellent stand-up comedian and emcee. He would take every opportunity to get a laugh at a show, church, nursing and even at a funeral. He always had a soft spot in his heart for children. Whether doing puppets, picnics or Christmas shows, he wanted each child to take part in the program or to win a prize.
Len loved spending time with his family, playing in the pool, working on projects, gardening or playing the organ. Summers were spent at Sandy Hook where he was very involved with the community club. He always enjoyed boating and cheering on the Blue Bombers. He especially loved travelling with Lois to new destinations or to their favourite winter hideaway in the Bahamas.
Len Andree died on October 4, 2017. He was predeceased by his wife Lois, daughters Lorraine and Vivian (1966) and is survived by his son Brian and his daughter Lisa as well as grandchildren.
Jim Ingebrigtsen submits stories of Memorable Manitobans to Lifestyles 55. To see more than 12,000 others please go to mhs.mb.ca.
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