James Mavor Moore, actor, producer and writer

York Professor Emeritus James Mavor Moore has died. Moore died in Victoria, BC, on Dec. 18, 2006, following a period of ill health. He was 87 years old. He is survived by his wife, Alexandra (Sandra) Browning, his five daughters and their families, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Right: James Mavor Moore

Moore, an actor, writer, critic, educator and public servant, was born in Toronto on March 8, 1919, and educated at the University of Toronto where he received his BA in 1941. He served in Intelligence during the Second World War following which he was employed by CBC Radio as producer for its International Service in Montreal. He moved to CBC Television in 1950 serving as its first chief producer.

In 1946, Moore helped his mother Dora Mavor Moore establish the New Play Society (which Dora Mavor Moore ran until it was disbanded in 1971) and served as general manager of NPS for many years. With his life-long dedication to the arts and the theatre, Moore is the founder of a vast range of artistic projects, many of which became Canadian institutions, such as Spring Thaw, the Charlottetown Festival, the Canadian Theatre Centre, and Toronto’s St. Lawrence Centre.

Moore was also the first chairman of the Guild of Canadian Playwrights, the first chief producer for CBC Television, a governor of the first Stratford Festival, a founding governor of the National Theatre School, adviser to the National Arts Centre, Theatre Calgary, Vancouver Playhouse and the Neptune Theatre, chairman of the Canada Council during a recession (1979-1983), and the author of over 100 works for stage, radio, and television.

In 1970 he was appointed a professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, York University and served as Chair of the Theatre Department from 1975 to 1976.  Moore is the recipient of seven honorary degrees, was awarded the Centennial Medal in 1967 and was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1973. He was then made companion in 1988. In 1984, York University named Moore a professor emeritus. In 1999, he received a Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement and was elected to the Order of British Columbia.

Moore produced, directed or appeared in over 50 stage plays in Canada as well as in radio and television dramas, and was the winner of three Peabody Awards for radio documentaries that he directed for the United Nations. He was the author of over 100 works for the stage, radio and television including the monographs: And What Do YOU Do?: A Short Guide to the Trades & Professions (1960); Louis Riel: An Opera in Two Acts (1967); Getting In (1973); Four Canadian Playwrights: Robertson Davies, Gratien Gelinas, James Reaney, George Ryga (1973); The Pile. Inside Out. The Store (1973); Six Plays by Mavor Moore (1989), comprises The Apology, The Store, The Pile, Getting In, The Argument, and Come Away, Come Away; play productions: I Know You (1944); Who’s Who (1949); Sunshine Town (1955); The Optimist (1956); The Ottawa Man (1961); Louis Riel (1967); Johnny Belinda (1968); Abracadabra (1979); Love and Politics (1979); Fauntleroy (1980); and A Christmas Carol (1988); and numerous television and radio scripts and productions. His memoirs, Reinventing Myself, were published in 1994.

A tribute to his life will be held at the University Club in Victoria on Jan. 6, at 2pm. Another celebration will be held in Toronto at a later date.