an extensive career in stage, radio, and television and film, Bruno
Gerussi has become one of Canada's most highly recognizable actors
and television personalities. Despite the diversity of his career,
the Canadian-born Gerussi is best known for his role as "Nick Adonidas"
on Canada's longest running television series, The Beachcombers
began his acting career on the stage where he ultimately performed
both supporting and leading roles in Canadian Players and Stratford
Festival such as Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar
and The Crucible. The exposure and experience provided
allowed Gerussi to make a smooth transition into the expanding arena
of Canadian television production of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
During this time the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television
developed a number of televised dramas, including The Crucible
(1959), Riel (1961), and Galileo (1963), in which
Gerussi assumed important dramatic roles.
a two-year stint (1967-68) with his own nationally broadcast mid-morning
CBC radio show Gerussi, Words and Music, Gerussi won the
lead role on the popular CBC family adventure series The Beachcombers
(1972-90) created by Marc and Susan Strange (Producers Philip Keatley,
Derek Gardner). Gerussi portrayed Nick Adonidas, the Greek-born
owner of Nick's Salvage Company, and father figure for a set of
characters who inhabited the fishing village around Molly's Reach.
Although largely consistent with the family-adventure genre, Beachcombers
("The" was dropped from the title in 1988) stretched the limitations
of the form sufficiently to allow the various characters to evolve
and the series to stay fresh during its long history. Over the course
of the series, for example, the romantic, free spirit nature of
Gerussi's character became increasingly responsible and fatherly
towards his substitute family.
total of 318 half-hour Beachcomber episodes were produced
over a 19 year period. At its peak in 1982, the series attracted
an audience of 1.94 million (25% of the available audience) during
the "CBC Sunday night family hour" (7:30 P.M. time slot). Beachcombers
was one of the few Canadian productions of its time to be widely
exported, selling to as many as 34 countries at once, including
Greece, Australia, Italy and Britain. The location of the production,
Gibson's Landing a small fishing village on the coast of British
Columbia, pulled upwards of 100,000 tourists a year as a result
of the show's popularity. Despite the international appeal of Beachcombers,
the program was often interpreted by Canadians as the quintessential
Canadian program. This was true both in terms of its economic development--a
relatively low budget product of the publicly subsidized CBC, as
well as culturally, in the sense that it presented a relatively
innocent, unglamourous group of characters and story lines, which
distinguished the series from much of the U.S. prime-time programming
distributed on Canadian airwaves. Ironically, CBC management attempted
to revamp the series in its last years by increasing the level of
action and violence in the story lines, decreasing the contrast
to its competition. This move was publicly criticized by longtime
cast members, particularly Gerussi, who saw this as an "Americanization"
of Canadian programming. By 1988-89, Beachcombers' audience
fell to 990,000, and the program was canceled the following year.
the 1970s Gerussi has accumulated dozens of television credits as
a guest character on various Canadian and U.S.-Canada co-productions,
including E.N.G., McQueen, Seeing Things, Hangin' In, Wojeck,
Wiseguy and most recently on CBC's Side Effects. Gerussi
is often cast in roles that take advantage of his "larger than life"
persona. For example, Gerussi has acted as the host of the Canada
Day telecast, and the opening of the Canada's National Arts Centre.
Gerussi also hosted his own CBC afternoon cooking program for four
years entitled Celebrity Cooks. This weekday production,
often shot in one take, drew on the host's personality and ability
to interact with the celebrities who acted as guest chefs.
Through his association with the Beachcombers series, and
his decision to locate his career permanently in Canada rather than
in the larger U.S. market, Gerussi has developed a particularly
strong link to Canada and its television industry.
Photo courtesy of Bruno Gerussi
GERUSSI. Born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, 1928. Educated
at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Joined the Stratford Festival
and the Canadian Players as a stage actor, mid-1950s; star of morning
CBC radio show Gerussi: Words and Music, 1967-68; star of
CBC television adventure series The Beachcombers, 1972-90;
host of morning show Celebrity Cooks. Died 21 November 1995.
1995 Artisans de notre histoire (actor)
Alexander Galt: The Stubborn Idealist, 1962; The Stage
to Three, 1964; Do Not Fold, Staple, Spindle or Mutilate,
Gerussi: Words and Music, 1967-68.
Night; Romeo and Juliet; Julius Caesar; The Crucible
"Beachcomber Gerussi Rakes CBC Officials for Cancelling Show." Montreal
Gazette, 26 June 1990.
Award Planned Bruno Award." Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada),
19 January 1996.
Move On, But Still Pines for The Beachcombers." Vancouver
(Canada) Sun, 20 September 1991.
"Gerussi Busy Despite Demise of Beachcombers." Winnipeg (Canada)
Free Press, 19 September 1991.
Gerussi Rakes CBC Officials for Cancelling Show." Montreal
(Quebec, Canada) Gazette. 26 June 1990.
Weather on the Sunshine Coast: Bruno Gerussi Has His Doubts About
Head Office." Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada), 1 August
Programming in English