Jazz Guitar Legend Jack Le Maire, passes away at 99 yrs old Monday Oct 18, 2010 from natural causes, in Tarzana California.
Jack Le Maire was born into show business on July 1, 1911. At a very early age, he joined the Ziegfeld Follies which featured his father, George Le Maire, the vaudevillian performer, writer and producer whom Milton Berle dubbed the "greatest straight man in showbiz". George, who was on the bill with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, wanted to find the pint-sized "Jackie" an instrument other than the saxophone, which he played "very poorly and very loudly." The great Eddie Lang, guitar legend, gave the 4-year-old Le Maire guitar lessons and told him to practice in the bathroom where no one could hear him. Three years later his talents were employed during WW1 when he sang "Over There" on the streets of New York to help sell war bonds. The guitar, which he quickly came to love, would soon fuel his passion for jazz, so much so that he became a master of the instrument and went on to compose music and play with some of the great musicians of the time. The Hickory House, the Famous Door, Leon and Eddie’s, and the Onyx Club are just a few of the many venues in which he performed, and his signature style was heard on broadcasts and recordings with a number of top artists including, Joe Marsala, Marty Marsala, Ferde Grofe, Joe Bushkin, Charlie Barnet, Joe Venuti, Wingy Manone, George Brunis, Artie Shapiro, Zooty Singleton, Chu Berry, George Weitling, Skinny Ennis, Hal Kemp, Buddy Rich, the great Dizzy Gillespie who nicknamed Jack, "Chords," and many, many other jazz legends of the 30's, 40's, 50’s and 60’s.
He later had a country cowboy stand up comedy act with a machine gun style of comedic delivery and more faces than a plastic surgeon, where he ended his act by playing and delighting his audience with good jazz. Touring the U. S. starring at venues such as the Palmer House in Chicago, the New York Waldorf Astoria, the Paramount Theater, and Casa Vegas, he received many accolades such as "Mr. Fun", "Master of Buffoonery", "Most Entertaining Master of Ceremonies", and "Zaniest". He had rave reviews that would mention he had his audiences convulsing. He went on to perform all over the world including Europe and the South Pacific during and after WWII and the Korean War. He often performed with Bob Hope and Johnny Grant on USO tours, which featured major celebrities. He brought laughter to our soldiers, met many dignitaries and received many medals and honors in far reaching places such as Europe, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Africa, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and Southeast Asia. His own USO troupe was the first tour to land in Vietnam during the early part of the conflict. In addition, Jack was a fine character actor who was a child actor and made 33 comedies for Pathé Studios in the 30’s, and acted in commercials and did bit parts on many TV shows and movies throughout his life. Best known in recent years as a dead ringer for Colonel Sanders, Jack is featured on the facades and buckets of many KFC restaurants worldwide and has appeared in numerous KFC commercials as well as countless spoofs on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
Born in Bronxville, New York, he moved to California in 1949 and his favorite baseball team came with him. Jack followed the Dodgers since they were in Brooklyn. He played tennis until he was 94 years old with "A" women players, loved to watch tennis and worked out with weights all his life up to his passing. He was a writer, a published poet, ,also play piano at piano bars, an alumnus of Peekskill Military Academy and Horace Mann High School, spoke at least 8 different languages which he learned on his travels, and had great concern for his fellow human beings, was involved in "Actor's and Other's for Animals, an activist for protecting endangered species and nature. He was married twice. First to singer Peggy Lloyd, and then to dancer Beverly Allen, both preceding him in death. He is survived by his three children, Jack Le Maire Jr., Donna Le Maire-Victor, and Lora Le Maire, plus five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Two days before he passed he was to fly to Australia to film a television show with actor Mel Gibson, a testament to his tenacity and lifelong commitment to entertainment.
A Celebration of his Life is scheduled for Saturday, November 20, 2010, 12:30 in Church of the Hills. Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.