Biography

Pioneer

Markle, Fletcher

(1921-1991)

Fletcher Markle was one of a troupe of great Canadian radio actors who learned their craft in Vancouver in the late 30s and early 40s. Some others in that troupe were John Drainie, Lister Sinclair, Bernie Braden and Alan Young.

Fletcher was born in Winnipeg. In The Birth of Radio in Canada by Bill McNeil and Morris Wolfe, Laurie Irvine - later a program manager - wrote about meeting Fletcher at CKWX Vancouver in about 1941. Fletcher was in the continuity department which in those days wrote the local commercials. Fletcher would get movie scripts, Laurie would adapt them, and the troupe of young actors would produce a 45-minute weekly drama.

In the same book, John Drainie wrote about working in a comedy show on CJOR Vancouver at about the same time with the same troupe, including Fletcher Markle. They also worked at CBC Vancouver.

During the Second World War the actors and dramatists descended on Toronto. There Fletcher became one of about 70 Canadian writers who wrote scripts for Andrew Allan's Stage series on CBC radio, one of the major factors in CBC's drama revolution. He also wrote for a weekly wartime drama series called Comrades in Arms.

Former CBC-TV news head Knowlton Nash wrote in Cue The Elephant that Fletcher Markle was responsible for actor Lorne Greene's first break in the U.S. Lorne was in New York to promote his idea for a clock that counted backwards to assist announcers. Markle had moved from Toronto to a successful career in the U.S. as a writer, producer and director. At the time he was producing the CBS Studio One series and asked Lorne if he would replace an ailing leading actor. That ultimately led Lorne Greene to fame in the role of Ben Cartwright on Bonanza.

As well as the Studio One series, Fletcher produced the 1953 -55 TV series Life With Father, Front Row Centre in 1955, and Thriller in 1960. For the big screen, he produced Jigsaw in 1949, Night Into Morning in 1951 and the Disney film The Incredible Journey in 1963.

The Incredible Journey was filmed in Canada and Fletcher stayed to produce and host the CBC-TV series Telescope from 1963 - 1969. It's for Telescope, a half-hour documentary series "to examine, reflect and project the Canadian image" that he is best remembered in Canada. He also took on the job of director of performing arts for the Canadian pavilion at the World's Fair, Expo '67, in Montreal.

Jill Tomasson Goodwin wrote a biography, Fletcher Markle 1921-1991.

Written by Jerry Fairbridge - April, 2003

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