Hamilton TV legend Bill Lawrence, host of Tiny Talent Time, dies at 91

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Published July 17, 2023 at 6:46 pm

TINY TALENT TIME PHOTO VIA BOB COWAN'S TWITTER POST
TINY TALENT TIME PHOTO VIA BOB COWAN'S TWITTER POST

Hamilton broadcasting legend Bill Lawrence, a familiar TV personality for decades as “Uncle Bill” on the children’s show Tiny Talent Time, has died at 91.

CHCH News, the website affiliated with his former employer, reported that he died from a heart attack in hospital on July 14.

Lawrence was credited as a TV pioneer for creating children’s programs even before Sesame Street. He hosted and co-produced Tiny Talent Time for 35 years at CHCH-TV in Hamilton. The popular variety show originally aired from 1957 to 1992, featuring children showing off their performing arts talents.

It was the second longest-running Canadian TV show and was often more popular than NFL games, according to a profile of him on the website of his alma mater Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU).

“He created children’s programs described as precursors to Sesame Street with puppets and strong educational content, including Interesting Room, Special Place, and Albert J. Steed,” according to the Toronto Metropolitan University’s website.

Lawrence was a broadcasting professor at Toronto Metropolitan University’s RTA (radio and television arts) School of Media from 1980 to 1996. He had graduated from the school, then known as Ryerson Polytechnic University, in 1954. Shortly after graduation, he got a job at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, where he initially worked as a technician. He moved on to directing, producing, writing and announcing, eventually becoming a popular on-air personality.

He later worked at the CBC. He presented weather and news for 28 years for the public broadcaster. He also worked on documentaries, game shows, specials and programs including It’s Your Choice, Juliette and Friends, VIP and Such Is Life, according to TMU. In addition, Lawrence announced for the lotteries, Million Dollar Sweeps and Travel Analysis at Global-TV.

“Bill Lawrence was an integral part of broadcasting’s evolution throughout a five-decade career,” the TMU said.

TWITTER PHOTO VIA BOB COWAN

TWITTER PHOTO VIA BOB COWAN

Fans remember ‘Uncle Bill’

“So sad to learn that CHCH legend Bill Lawrence passed away. I grew up watching him and 4 years ago we became neighbours,” Bob Cowan, a retired CHCH Morning Live anchor, tweeted on July 15. “He always asked his Tiny Talent Time guests ‘If I could snap my fingers and make a wish come true for you, what would it be?’ I wish he was still here.”

“I worked with Bill Lawrence at the CBC Evening News in Toronto in the 1990s when he was our Weather man,” Simon Dingley, reporter and producer at CBC TV News in Toronto, tweeted. “Wonderful guy, great sense of humour about the tv industry.”

“I think every Hamiltonian grew up watching Tiny Talent Time. He is a legend. RIP,” tweeted Brenda Fraser, a retired police officer.

“He was one of the best. He made children happy with tiny talent time. I’m so fortunate to meet him with my dad at the station as they worked together. Sincere condolences to the family & everyone that he touched during his life to make theirs better even for just a moment 💙,” tweeted realtor Jeff Stone.

“I was on Tiny Talent Time when I was 10. He was so kind and reassuring to all of the kids. Such a gentleman. May he RIP,” tweeted Judy Martin.

COURTESY TORONTO METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY

COURTESY TORONTO METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY

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