Actor Inga Cadranel is following in the footsteps of the many talented Canadian performers who have headed to sunny California. The Beach actress has been ‘promoted’ from playing a police detective on Orphan Black to a police chief on the new series Backstrom which debuts January 22.
With the Academy Award nominations coming out this week, here is a trivia challenge for you: Has any Beach resident ever gone on to win an Oscar? Someone out there must know a third cousin twice removed who has a little golden statue on their mantle.
If you scribbled “Who is Alex Trebek?,” sorry, wrong category. The Malvern grad has won Emmys. If you guessed Miley Cyrus (who lived in the Beach for four years), you are in jeopardy of losing 10 IQ points.
Canadians have an impressive list of Oscar winners, especially in documentary, animated and short films. The National Film Board of Canada has 12 Oscars, but the Academy is fickle. Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant never won gold.
Actors Mary Pickford (1892-1979), Walter Huston (1883-1950) and Christopher Plummer (b. 1929) are Toronto-born Oscar winners, but never lived in the Beach. Raymond Massey (1896-1983) spent youthful summers at Dentonia Farm, but was only nominated for an Oscar. Marie Dressler (1868-1934) was born in Cobourg, but lived on Parliament Street for four years. She won an Oscar for Min & Bill (1930) and at the age of 65 became the most popular actress in the world after playing Tugboat Annie (1933).
Directors: Most people would guess Norman Jewison (b. 1926) who grew up in the heart of the Beach. His fine films won 12 Oscars. Alas, though he personally received seven nominations, Jewison never garnered an individual Oscar. Maybe Christopher Chapman would be a good guess. His Expo ’67 film A Place to Stand won gold, but he was a Rosedale boy, no luck.
Music: Howard Shore (b. 1946) has three Oscars for composition (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Mychael Danna (b. 1958) has one for The Life of Pi (2012).
Writers: Many great authors have called Toronto home, however briefly, at various times. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), William Faulkner (1897-1962), Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) and Alice Munro (b. 1931) have all won Nobel Prizes for Literature.
Michael Ondaatje (b. 1943) wrote The English Patient while living on Woodycrest Avenue near the Danforth – close, but no. The 1996 film adaptation won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Bestselling novelist Arthur Hailey wrote Hotel and Airport at his home on Fallingbrook Woods, but did not pick up gold for his writing, just buckets of money.
And the winner is … Norman Reilly Raine who in 1927 lived at the foot of Fernwood Park Avenue down by the lake. He became a prolific Hollywood screenwriter and won an Oscar for his screenplay of The Life of Emile Zola (1937). His other famous credits include Tugboat Annie (1933), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Captains of the Clouds (1942), the first Hollywood picture filmed entirely on location in Canada.
Raine (1894-1971) was born in the US to an American mother and English father. The family moved to Toronto around the beginning of the First World War. Norman joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was discharged as a Captain in the Royal Air Force. Many of his screenplays would be about war, flying or the seas.
In the 1920s Raine wrote articles for magazines and became an assistant editor at Maclean’s. Maybe those days looking out over Lake Ontario and the Toronto waterfront inspired the young journalist to create the raucous character Tugboat Annie for over 70 stories in The Saturday Evening Post.
His sister went by her middle name Irene, but her first name was Annie after her mom Anna. She lived for a time on Balsam Avenue by the water. Annie, the tough-talking tugboat captain, caught the imagination of the public and became a folk heroine. Soon Hollywood came calling and Norman Raine never looked back.
Watch the Academy Awards on Feb. 22 and remember a forgotten Toronto writer who found gold at the end of the Hollywood rainbow.