Phyllis Marshall (b. Barrie, ON, 4 Nov 1921) was a Canadian singer and actress. She studied piano as a child and was known as a track athlete, but made her debut at 15 as a singer on radio station CRCT. She then performed with Jack Arthur and on CBC radio with Percy Faith.
Her first nightclub engagement was at Toronto's Silver Slipper, September 1938, with the Canadian Ambassadors. Encouraged by the CBC announcer Byng Whitteker to sing blues and jazz, she performed during the 1940s with various Toronto dance bands, including an 18-month stint at Toronto's Park Plaza Hotel 1944-46, with her own trio, and on tour 1947-8 in the USA with the Cab Calloway Orchestra.
A contemporary of Eleanor Collins among early black performers on the CBC, Marshall appeared 1949-52 on radio's 'Blues for Friday' (later 'Starlight Moods') and starred on TV's 'The Big Revue' 1952-4, 'Cross-Canada Hit Parade' 1956-9, and other shows. She performed with Canadian jazz notables including Oscar Peterson and Bert Niosi, and also starred in the Canadian National Exhibition grandstand show. She performed in England on BBC TV in 1959 (The Phyllis Marshall Special) and again in 1964 in nightclubs. Her LP That Girl (1964, Cap FS-614), recorded in the company of US jazz stars Buck Clayton and Buddy Tate, captures Marshall's light, secure singing style and received a Juno Award as 'good music product LP'. Marshall had earlier recorded for Monogram in 1949.
Her second career, as an actress, began in 1956 at Toronto's Crest Theatre and included dramatic and musical roles in stage, radio, and TV productions such as the revue Cindy-Ella (1964), CBC radio's 'The Amen Corner' (1970), and CBS-CTV's Night Heat in the mid-1980s. She continued to sing on occasion - eg, at the ACTRA Awards in 1977, and for Freedom Fest (Harbourfront) in 1988.
Marshall is remembered as one of Canadian television's earliest stars, and as a pioneer among black Canadian performers.
She died in Toronto in 1996.
Scope and Content
This item is a group portrait of, front row (left to right): Phyllis Marshall and Sylvia Schwartz. Everyone else in this photograph is unidentified (possibly musicians).
This image has no proofs.
Copyright is in the public domain and permission for use is not required. Please credit the Ontario Jewish Archives as the source of the photograph.
See Fonds 80, series 4 for a portrait of Phyllis Marshall by Sylvia Schwartz.