Biography

Pioneer

Harmer, Shirley

(1932- )

Shirley Harmer had a rich, warm and flexible voice and a sparkling personality that made her an early shooting star.

She was born in Oshawa, just east of Toronto. At the age of 15 she sang with Boyd Valleau and his Orchestra. The 16-piece orchestra was frequently heard on CBC Radio.

Four years later Shirley had an audition for the George Murray Show on CFRB Toronto and got the job. George Murray became her manager and she married him in 1953.

Shirley's television debut was with Murray on a CBC variety program Four for the Show. From 1954-'57 she hosted CBC-TV's Sunday night Canadian General Electric Showtime on which Robert Goulet was often seen.

Shirley moved to the United States where she appeared on the Dave Garroway Show on NBC and recorded If You Love Me. She performed with Paul Whiteman at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, among other venues. In 1957-58 she appeared regularly on George Gobel's variety show on NBC-TV. She also appeared many times on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show as well as on the Merv Griffin and other similar shows. She performed in Italy and Switzerland and in a command performance in London for the royal family.

She played Jack Lord's wife in the movie The Hangman.

From the 1970's, Shirley Harmer lived in New York, Hollywood and Florida, performing in clubs and concerts and later singing on cruise ships in partnership with her husband, comedian Beni (Mason) Masselli. Her son, Anthony Bertram, was also in show business as an actor and married Jessica Stark, a producer for ABC-TV.

In 2002 Shirley bought land on Ontario's Lake Scugog as a base closer to her family in Oshawa, although she said that was not the end of her career in entertainment.

Written by Jerry Fairbridge - April, 2003

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