A legendary figure in the Toronto entertainment scene, who helped to nurture local talent and bring some of the biggest international stars to town, has died.
Booking agent, personal manager and Canada’s superstar publicist Gino Empry passed away Saturday. He was in his early 80s.
The entertainment giant suffered a stroke in July and died of congestive heart failure.
Empry got his start in showbiz at the age of 14 when he formed his own Catholic drama group and went on to become an actor, director and co-producer in small theatres.
Like many performers, Empry had to look outside of the entertainment industry for a time to make some cash and was once employed as an office manager and computer analyst in the highway trucking industry.
His booking agency was established in 1964 and its first client was the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Empry went on to have a long-standing business relationship with theatre giant Ed Mirvish.
Six years later he became the entertainment and PR director for Canada’s hottest nightclub – The Imperial Room at the Royal York – and he was responsible for bringing some of the biggest names in music and movies to the city, including the likes of Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Raquel Welch, Roy Orbison and Tina Turner.
And he represented some incredible Canadian talent including Anne Murray, Celine Dion, Ronnie Hawkins, stage legend William Hutt, and ballet legend Karen Kain. He also managed some major international stars including Tony Bennet.
Empry also dedicated much of his time to raising money for local charities including Operation Herbie, The Canadian Cancer Society and Famous People Players. In 1993 his efforts were recognized when he received Toronto’s highest honour – the Award of Merit.
His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.
To read some of Empry’s thoughts on the celebrities he worked with, click here.
The weekend also saw the loss of another longtime member of Toronto’s entertainment scene when Toronto Star entertainment writer Sid Adilman died of heart failure at the age of 68. He was widely regarded as a great supporter of Canadian movies, music, books and television. Adilman retired from the Star in 2002 after 42 years of covering entertainment.