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At 11:00 am, in the Unitarian Church on the corner of 49th and Oak, a funeral service is held for Jack Wasserman, the city’s best-known celebrity, nightlife and self-described “saloon” columnist.
“The plaudits continued to pour in Friday from throughout B.C. as public figures and those in the media recalled Mr. Wasserman’s contributions to Vancouver and journalism,” the Province reports, “Talk show host Jack Webster described Mr. Wasserman as a ‘reporter who never lost the craft… It was dangerous to whisper a hint to Jack. Two more telephone calls and he knew it all.”
“Night clubs are where I go to work,” The Sun quoted Wasserman as saying.
The noted journalist, radio host, and sometime television personality, who had written for the paper since 1949, was a familiar face all over town, not only for his writing on celebrity, society, and (occasionally) politics, but also for his charitable work and commitment to the community.
“He identified many of the problems in our community,” Mayor Jack Volrich explains. “He prodded politicians and officials into correcting a great many of these problems. He was very much a conscience of our community. Trhough his writings, proddings and perceptions, he succeeded in making Vancouver a better place for all of us.”
Wasserman’s death of a heart attack at the age of 50 happened only 4 days earlier, while onstage in front of more than 600 people, as he was in the midst of delivering a speech at a comedy roast for longtime politician Gordon Gibson.
“Wasserman fell forward in what from a distance seemed to be a deliberately timed punchline collapse,” reported The Province, “done with the timing of a comedian. But people nearby saw that his head had struck the microphone. Then when he tumbled backwards, disappearing from view, it was with a resounding crash and a force that scattered the petals of the Hawaiian lei he was wearing. Yet even when it was announced that an ambulance had been called, then that an ambulance was on the way, many still felt they were watching not an unfolding tragedy but a skit.”
Wasserman was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. In the 1990s, several blocks of Hornby Street will be declared “Wasserman’s Beat”.
IMAGE: Wasserman, eating Chinese Food, circa 1974. Image Courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library.