03/07/2013 07:10 EST | Updated 05/07/2013 05:12 EDT

CBC Radio's Max Ferguson Dies


CBC Radio personality Max Ferguson, best known for his long-running programs Rawhide and The Max Ferguson Show, has died. He was 89.

In more than 50 years at the CBC, Ferguson became a celebrated satirist and award-winning broadcaster and writer.

Born in Durham, England, Ferguson arrived in Canada at the tender age of three and grew up in London, Ont., where he graduated with a BA in English and French from the University of Western Ontario.

He soon embarked on a broadcasting career, joining CFPL London as an announcer. Only a few months later, he was in Halifax, employed by the CBC.

However, when he went to work one Saturday, he was horrified to learn he had been scheduled to host a half-hour show on country music, which Ferguson loathed. That’s when he decided to invent a character called Rawhide.

"I then proceeded for the next half-hour to introduce each cowboy record in the most insulting fashion I could devise," he wrote in his 1967 memoir, And Now…Here's Max, which nabbed the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

It was an instant hit and much to Ferguson’s chagrin, he was soon hosting a a six-mornings-a-week show, which ran for 17 years out of Halifax and Toronto, starring Rawhide and as many as 14 other characters that Ferguson could create.

- CBC DIGITAL ARCHIVES: Max Ferguson - CBC Radio Entertainer

After retiring Rawhide in 1962, he soon launched The Max Ferguson Show, which ran five days a week and featured topical skits based on the news of the day.

Ferguson would mimic prominent politicians and celebrities, and he wrote his own sketches.

Ferguson was a busy broadcaster. He also appeared on the satirical comedy show InsideFrom The Outside, the afternoon TV talk show 55 North Maple and the TV news program Tabloid.

After 52 years at the CBC, he retired in 1998.

Ferguson was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and garnered many other accolades, including the Governor General's Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2001, the John Drainie Award for significant contribution to Canadian broadcasting, the Gordon Sinclair Award, three ACTRA trophies, and honorary degrees from the University of Western Ontario, the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University.

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