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October 18, 2009

Les Lye Dies at 84

Canadian comic was known for children's series You Can't Do That on Television.

Les Lye, a Canadian actor and broadcaster best known in the United States as a cast member of the children’s comedy show You Can’t Do That on Television, died July 21, 2009, in Ottawa, Canada. He was 84.

You Can’t Do That on Television, a sort of junior version of Laugh-In, had its premiere in 1979 on the Ottawa station CJOH-TV. Lye appeared in comedy sketches with the show’s young performers, playing foils like Barth of the hamburger stand Barth’s Burgery and the captain of a firing squad that was usually about to execute the children.

When it was shown on Nickelodeon in the early 1980s, it became one of the channel’s most popular programs. It ran until 1990 in Canada, then continued in Nickelodeon reruns.

Born in Toronto on November 18, 1924, Leslie Earnest Lye served briefly in the armed forces, then earned a degree from the University of Toronto and studied at Lorne Greene’s Academy of Radio Arts.

He began his broadcast career in 1948 at the talk radio station CFRA, where he worked with the comedian and impersonator Rich Little. They made a comedy album, My Fellow Canadians.

In 1961, he joined CJOH as a freelance writer and performer.

Lye and Bill Luxton created the popular comedy duo Uncle Willy and Floyd, who appeared on Canadian television for more than 20 years and drew many famous guest stars like Alanis Morissette and Margaret Trudeau.

Lye is survived by his wife and three children.

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