Former CBC host and Friendly Giant puppeteer Rod Coneybeare dies at 89


Rod Coneybeare, who spent three decades in CBC animation, producing and appearing on a variety of shows, including the voice of beloved characters Rusty and Jerome from The gentle giantis dead.

Coneybeare, according to an obituary of his family in the Toronto Star, died in Lindsay, Ont., at the age of 89.

The family said he “leaves behind beloved and everlasting memories of a man with a biting intellect, a dark and incisive humor, an appreciation for art, popular music and classic films”.

Born in Belleville, Ontario, Coneybeare was influenced by radio from an early age. After early success as a teenager, appearing on a CBC radio show and selling a radio show script to NBC, Coneybeare told the Star in 1970 that he had become a “radio bum”, working at Ontario stations in Orillia, Chatham, Guelph and Ottawa, while supplementing his income with work in the theater world.

Rod Coneybeare on Writing for Kids

The voice of Jerome and Rusty of CBC-TV’s Friendly Giant previews his new show, Bananas in 1969. 5:46

In the late 1950s, he was selected to portray characters on The gentle giantthe children’s show created by and performed by Bob Homme.

Homme, an American, had first produced the show on public airwaves in Wisconsin in the early 1950s, where it eventually caught the attention of CBC producers.

“Giant” Chemistry

The show, which would eventually air on CBC from 1958 to 1985, starred Homme as the giant Friendly, who tells a simple story to his puppet friends Rusty and Jerome, usually outside the castle in which he resided.

Coneybeare would tell investigators that part of the show’s appeal was that she didn’t hang out with kids. It was “an island of calm and intelligence, humor, music and books – much like a real conversation bright children might have with a witty adult,” he said. one day to an interviewer.

Over the years, both men would attest to the pleasure they received from playing with each other in character.

Homme told Weekend Magazine during the show’s heyday that the scripts were only a one-page outline due to a “special kind of understanding between Rod and me, and the instinctive ability to follow other’s thoughts.

Coneybeare is shown with Jerome the Giraffe on the set of Friendly Giant on May 30, 1965. (Radio Canada)

For Rusty, the wise, serious but somewhat naive rooster, the naturally baritone Coneybeare employed a falsetto.

Jerome, the louder and more demonstrative of the two puppets he voiced, was “a bass-baritone giraffe doing a Jimmy Stewart impersonation,” he told the Province in British Columbia in 1979.

Additional puppeteers and characters would be added to the show as it aired.

Over the years, Coneybeare has been involved in a number of other CBC programs, usually on radio, using a mix of cleverness and fantasy.

The Rod and Charles Showstarring Charles Winters, was a science show, yes you are wrong a comedy quiz and Bananas sketch-based satire. Coneybeare tapped into his love of music producing radio biographies of artists like Fats Waller and Frank Sinatra.

Rewind54:59The Rod and Charles Show

Today, since 1961, the Rod and Charles Show. It was a fast-paced, quirky and engaging show hosted by Rod Coneybeare and Charles Winter that became popular with adults and children alike. 54:59

After leaving the CBC, Coneybeare would earn an ACTRA nomination with his son, Wilson, for co-writing an episode of the comedy vehicle Don Adams. check it outand he lent his voice to animated television series in the 1990s such as x-men, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3 and The Busy World of Richard Scarryaccording to

Homme died in 2000, while Daniel McCarthy, a former head of children’s programming at CBC who helped develop The gentle giant and Mr. Dressupwho died in 2013.

Coneybeare, according to the obituary, is survived by his wife Moira, four children and seven grandchildren.


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