OUR RAGS-TO-RICHEST musical comedy, McGill’s My Fur Lady, could well be overshadowed by a 1959 sleeper—Orpheus in the Underworld, Canadian adaptation of Jakob Offenbach’s 101year-old comic opera. Billed as a side attraction at the Stratford, Ont., Festival, it walked away with critical and popular backing as the summer’s biggest hit. The St. Louis Opera Company is dickering to produce the Canadian version and two music publishers want the new lyrics. CBC Wednesday Night has put it on radio and Folio may show it on TV. Orpheus’ two adaptors bear watching too. They’re Robert Fulford, book editor of the Toronto Star, and James Knight, of Canadian Homes and Gardens. Now they’re working on material for a winter revue (two targets: Stratford and Maclean’s). Possible next Fulford-Knight project: adapting an Italian opera by setting it in Toronto’s spreading Italian section.
AN 80-YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER may not
push any satin-skinned photographers’ models out of work, but you'll see more of her if you read TV ads. She’s Mrs. James Hawley, spotted in a Toronto Salvation Army home for the aged when Admiral wanted a grannie to pose with their hi-fi set. Mrs. Hawley was guest of honor at the company’s annual sales dinner and was signed up to appear with its latest TV set.
ROCK HOUNDS—hobbyists who scour the outdoors for precious or semi-precious gems, fossils or petrified wood—will soon have left few Canadian stones unturned. Clubs are on the boom from Halifax to Vancouver. And this thriving hobby has helped uncover at least one man worth watching: Toni Cavelti, a 28-year-old Swiss-born Vancouver jewelry designer. His pins, rings and earrings—mostly of Canadian materials—are winning international acclaim.
A TRADITIONAL ACADIAN CRAFT is winning new fans because of the skill of a 45-year-old Cape Breton Island spinster, Elizabeth LeFort. Her lovingly woven tapestry portraits—a few subjects: Pope Pius XII, Queen Elizabeth, President Eisenhower, Arthur Godfrey—are bringing up to $10,000 each in international markets. An Oklahoma oilman has commissioned her for that sum to do a scene from the old west.
ONTARIO AUTHOR FRED BODSWORTH, at
41, has already built a solid claim to literary fame by writing about flora (see page 16) and fauna (his first novel. The Last of the Curlews, like many of his best magazine articles, had a natural-history theme). Now watch him soar to even more important heights with a new subject—people. His second novel. The Strange One of Barra, will be the January selection of the Literary Guild. It’s the parallel romances of a Scottish biologist, studying in Canada, with a Cree girl and a male Barnacle goose with a female Canada goose.
A VIVACIOUS, RED - HAIRED Quebec City journalist named Mme Madeleine Fohy St. Hilaire is waging — and apparently winning — a onewoman war to break down barriers of language and distance between French and Western Canadas. Her weapons are branches of L’Alliance Canadienne, bilingual club (minimum membership: 10 of each tongue) she founded in 1953 while studying at the University of Toronto. Last year, covering Princess Margaret’s tour for L'Action Catholique, she sparked interest in the west, expects branches to open in Saskatoon and Sudbury this fall. After that: Winnipeg and Calgary.
NEW HEYDAY FOR HIGHBROWS
“Little” magazines stage a comeback
“LITTLE” MAGAZINES, the outspok-
en, super-literary publications usually associated with the Left Bank and bohemian writers of the "lost generation." have staged a flourishing comeback in the 1950s. Now they look ready for another spurt.
Even at their roaring peak in the roaring 20s, only six existed in Canada. Three more sprung up in the 30s. another nine in the 40s. Cf those pioneers, a scant handful — Canadian Poetry, Culture, The Fiddlchead—still survives. But since 1950, with a new' and vital group of young Canadian writers seeking an audience, six magazines devoted to avant-garde prose, poetry and criticism have taken root. There'll be at least one more this year.
What makes a magazine “little”? There’s no exact definition. In their salad years, with titles like Blast or Mutiny, they raged quixotically against every status quo. Today, they’re much more conventional.
In Canada they centre around writers like Anne Wilkinson, Irving Layton,
Raymond Souster, F. R.
Scott. Roger Duhamel and Louis Dudek, many of whom are also editors or publishers.
Some little magazines to watch: Explorations (1953) will stop publication this fall with issue No. 10 (editors Edmund Carpenter and Marshal McLuhan are leaving the country) but already some back-issues are selling for $65.
Tamarack Review (1956) is now over the hump, with a $3,000 Canada Council grant probably easing the strain on editor Anne Wilkinson’s wallet. Coming up: special issues on the theatre, the West Indies and French Canada.
Ecrits du Canada Francais (1956) with a Canada Council grant will now publish three issues a year, hopes to double its circulation—to 2,000.
Delta (1958) is still “unsuccessful,” boasts editor Louis Dudek, but is growing rapidly.
Prism will be launched in Vancouver this fall, to “convey the current vigor of B. C. writing.” -ELIZABETH PARR
HOUSEWIVES GIRD FOR WAR Premiums doomed?
FOR TEN YEARS, the militant housewives of. the Canadian Association of Consumers have been passing resolutions against “free” prizes in cereal and detergent boxes. The resolutions have had little effect. Last March, the CAC’s Regina branch tried to boycott all products that “gave away” premiums. The boycott was still-born.
Will the CAC give up? Hardly. At least three branches—including the undaunted Reginas — will take up arms again this fall and there’s a good chance the housewives' war against premiums will become national.
The issues: Manufacturers of pre-packaged goods' — mostly breakfast foods and laundry products—pack tea towels, china or cutlery into their boxes as buyer come-ons. Their side: They have to. Even though it keeps prices up,, a premium is a powerful marketing tool. The CAC's side: Housewives
would rather have prices lower. And they quote surging sales figures of the fqw lower-priced,, premiumless product* to prove it.
Who’s right? The most likely answer is both. Marketing surveys show some housewives—for an unexplained reason, particularly those in Quebec—are more conscious of premiums than of price. But even the most price-wary, Maclean’s found in a brief poll of manufacturers, will go for the right premium. From the same shelf, two detergents of about equal effectiveness will sell with about equal speed—one with 4 lb.. 4 oz. of detergent for 99c; the other with 3 lb., 3 oz. and a “free” bath towel for $1.65. The tools of war are customer boycotts. Regina's try in March flopped because only the 700 local CAC members were signed for the boycott, say its organizers. Several CAC branches already urge their members to stay away from premiums. Vancouver and Regina are now organizing public drives—-with newspaper ads and door-to-door pamphlets—for the fall. In Toronto, 400 CAC members are deep in a survey of soap and detergent prices and quality, preparing for “a public education” drive.
WILL ADS PLAY ROUGH? - u.s., maybe. „;>
NO - HOLDS - BARRED advertising— where “knock thy neighbor" has replaced “boost thyself" as the first commandment—is making slow but steady gains in U. S. media but it’s unlikely to spread to Canada.
It probably started with the makers of headache pills. Competitors disparaged brands which, without quite naming the manufacturers, they called pointedly “aspirin—even aspirin with buffering.” Last season it began to spread: One company showed its electric razor shaving the fuzz from a peach and within weeks (the time it takes to whip up a new commercial) a competitor calmly announced its razor was made for shaving beards, not fruit; one home permanent put “hidden body in your hair,” soon another put in “body that isn’t hidden.”
Ad men feel the trend wall grow in the U. S. as more drummers find they’ve said everything good they can say about their own products and can only win
new sales by blasting their competitors. Then why won’t it hit Canada? Answering an informal poll by Maclean’s, top brains of Canadian agencies unanimously praised the CBC’s commercialacceptance department which keeps a hawk-eye on “good taste and morals” and won’t allow knocking.
Private stations could change that but probably won’t. The Board of Broadcast Governors may set up a commercial-acceptance division of its own. But even if it doesn't, private stations will likely discover the trend other Canadian media have felt all along; competition here just isn’t as ferocious as it is in the U. S. There’s still room for plenty of new sales by boosting your own products.
There’s a reason critical ads never got started here. U. S. headache-pill makers couldn't begin to snipe at “aspirin" until the copyright on the word ran out. In Canada, Aspirin is still copyrighted.
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