Marjolaine Hébert, actor, O.C., C.O.Q. (born 13 April 1926 in Ottawa, Ontario; died 28 July 2014 in Longueuil, Québec). Hébert was the first woman in Québec to be a regular announcer on radio. She founded Québec’s first professional summer theatre.
Marjolaine Hébert began her acting career in 1939 on the children’s program Radio Petit-Monde on radio station CHLP. From 1941 to 1946, she played Marguerite in the radio drama series Madeleine et Pierre by André Audet, broadcast on stations CKAC and CHRC. She returned to children’s programming in 1945 when she recorded an LP of Perrault’s fairy tales.
She played in the majority of Québec radio dramas until 1960, including Rue Principale, Je vous ai tant aimé, and L’ardent voyage, to name just a few. At CKVL, she became the first woman to be a regular announcer on Québec radio in 1951. She also appeared in a 26-episode Department of Education radio series on the history of Québec called J’ai une histoire.
Theatre and Television
Marjolaine Hébert was an actor at heart, so she pursued a career in theatre in addition to her work in radio. From 1942 to 1947, she played in L’École des femmes and Songes d’une nuit d’été (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). In 1950, she played the role of Christine in Trois garçons une fille at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert. She performed at theThéâtre Anjou and the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. She also acted in many great theatrical classics, including plays by Jean-Paul Sartre, Marcel Dubé, and Françoise Loranger, for a career total of 33 plays.
In 1952, she made her television debut, and she would continue to work in that medium until 1993. Her performance as Bedette in the wonderful series Le Survenant (1954–60) showed that she was an exceptional talent, and her role as Jeanne Jacquemin in the soap opera Terre Humaine (1978–84) confirmed it. She played a variety of other roles in television series and teleplays.
Founder of the First Professional Summer Theatre in Québec
In 1957, Marjolaine Hébert founded the Cabaret-Théâtre Aux deux masques. In 1960, she founded the summer theatre La Marjolaine in a barn in the Eastern Townships community of Eastman. This theatre was, in her words, “her finest legacy.” Working with Louise Rémy, Yvon Dufour, and many other actors, she turned a barn overlooking the magnificent Lake D’Argent and facing Mount Orford into a superb venue for theatre.
In 1962, she enlisted the help of her eventual associate, the brilliant writer, director and producer Louis-Georges Carrier. In collaboration with singer-songwriter Claude Léveillée, the Théâtre La Marjolaine presented the first French-language Canadian musical in 1964. She subsequently put on other musicals in Eastman.
Awards and Honours
Marjolaine Hébert received many awards and honours recognizing her talent. In 1951, she was voted the most popular radio personality of the year by listeners and was named Miss Radio. In 1955, she won the Prix Méritas award for her role as Bedette in the television series Le Survenant. She was again awarded the Prix Méritas in 1957 for her role as Margot in Pour cinq sous d’amour and once more in 1967 for her role in Encore cinq minutes. For her theatrical work, she won the St-Jean-Baptiste Society's Prix Victor-Morinawardin 1978. In 1984, she was named Woman of the Year. She was made a Knight of the National Order of Québec in 1991 and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1994.
An accomplished woman of the theatre, Marjolaine Hébert has left Québec a rich heritage. Her Eastman theatre (from which she departed in 1995) was eventually acquired by Marc-André Coallier and continues the work of its founder in the same creative spirit.