Monday, May 6, 2013

Jack Wasserman

The entry that Tamy Burns wrote yesterday inspired me to write on a local legend, Jack Wasserman. And Saturday when I was riding on the bus, I met a woman who had actually worked with the newspaper man and said he was quite a character.

Here's Jack Wasserman eating Chinese food on May 8, 1974. This photo was taken by Croton Studios. The photo comes from the Vancouver Library Collection.

This house is at 1940 Napier Street. I don't have any information on it, besides the fact that it is listed as H.A. McDonald residence and this photo dates back to 1932. I got this from the City of Vancouver collection online.

And the rest of the house today.

Jack Wasserman came to Vancouver in 1935 at the age of eight. He was born in Winnipeg on February 27, 1927.

Wasserman graduated from King Edward High School in 1945 and went on to law school at the University of British Columbia. However, the law wasn't for him and Jack dropped out to take a reporter's job with the Ubyssey.

Wasserman joined the staff at the Vancouver Sun and became a columnist to be read if you wanted to keep abreast of happenings in the nightclub scene. It is said that after reading Jack's column, a person actually felt as if they had been at the Cave or some other night club.

Here's a quote from one of his columns"Vancouver erupted as the vaudeville capital of Canada, rivaling and finally outstripping Montreal in the East and San Francisco in the south as one of the few places where the brightest stars of the nightclub era could be glimpsed from behind a post, through a smoke-filled room, over the heads of $20 tippers at ringside. Only in Las Vegas and Miami Beach, in season, were more superstars available in nightclubs."

Jack's biggest scoop came when he reported the sordid death of Errol Flynn in a West End apartment.
A long-time gossip and self described "saloon reporter", Jack Wasserman would phone in his notes for certain articles. Legend has it that the notes were so good, the Sun ran them verbatim.

At the age of 24, Jack was given a man about town column. He wrote on the often lurid details of Vancouver's night life and society (and scandal of course). He haunted such famous nightclubs as the Cave and the Ivy.

The area where Wasserman worked - certain blocks of Hornby Street - have been dubbed 'Wasserman's Beat'.

Jack was fired from the Sun but rehired 18 months later. He ran a radio show on CJOR in 1969; another show on CKNW in 1970 called "Wasserman's World" and later hosted a show on CBC TV called Hourglass.

In 1977, while speaking at a roast for Gordon Gibson Sr at the Hotel Vancouver, Jack Wasserman dropped dead of a heart attack. He was fifty years old.

Thanks goes to the BC Radio History website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Wasserman invented "the night of the car dealers" to describe election night, December 11, 1975...!