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October 8, 2015

Canadian TV legend Les Lye dead at 84

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 24th 2009 8:01PM
Les Lye as Barth from Just when it seemed the wrath of the TV celebrity grim reaper finally decided to take his coffee break, the break room runs out of coffee.

Actor and comedian Les Lye passed away on Tuesday from unidentified causes. He was 84.

Of course, here in the States, we know Les as that old guy who played all of the adults on You Can't Do That On Television on Nickelodeon. That was just the tip of the poutine for TV's Ross Ewich.

According to his obituary, he got his big break in radio and collaborating as a writer with impressionist comedian Rich Little in the late 1940s and early 50s. Then when he made the transition to television, he forged a partnership with actor Bill Luxton and created a Saturday morning kids show called Willy and Floyd, a show that ran for more than 20 years.

He achieved international fame among children thanks to the many memorable and funny roles he played on YCDTOT including greasy spoon diner owner Barth, arcade manager Blip, notorious child executor El Capitano and the show's slimy sounding producer Ross Ewich. Sound out that last one and you'll get the joke.

For me, his work will always be memorable because YCDTOT was the first show my parents actually forbade me to watch. I had to sneak over to my friend Tommy's house to watch it who may or may not have had parents since he free reign of every TV in the house including late night HBO, but that's a story I'll save for Shannon Tweed's obituary.

It was really the first show in my mind that created an "us vs. them" mentality between kids and adults and didn't worry about influencing children negatively by entertaining kids through things that kids actually found entertaining. Maybe that's why my parents refused to let me watch it. They saw it and thought it might lead to a children's revolution of Spartacan proportions.

Still, it would have been nice to have seen what else Mr. Lye had up his sleeve for kids in the States. There's yet another reason for us Yanks to rally against Canada: for keeping Mr. Lye all to themselves.

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What a shame. Being a faithful viewer, the first thought that went through my head was that the food finally got Barth. (I...heard that!) My thoughts go out to his family.

Hopefully one of these days everything'll get sorted out and we'll finally get YCDTOT on DVD so we can continue to enjoy his performances.

July 25 2009 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I read this article the first thing that popped in my head was "Who is Les Lye?" And I answered myself, "I dunno!"

Then a bucket of slime poured on my head.

July 24 2009 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved watching Les and the gang on You Can't Do That On Television.

July 24 2009 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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