Articles - Plouffe Family, The (Series) (1953-1959)

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Plouffe Family, The

The Plouffe Family

From CBC Times, Sept 21, 1956

"I feel like a lion let loose!" exulted author Roger Lemelin, as he began another season of scripts for "The Plouffe Family" {scheduled to begin on the CBC-TV network, Friday, October 5, at 8:30 p.m.). After a summer spent yachting on the St. Lawrence River and relaxing with his wife and children, Quebec's versatile sportsman and literary man of many parts announced himself more than eager to plunge into the intriguingly complicated affairs of the Plouffes and their friends.

Lemelin and three members of the Plouffe Family have just completed a tour of the Western Provinces which took them ultimately to Vancouver for a sponsors' sales meeting. The group included Mama Plouffe (Madame Amanda Alarie), Guillaume Plouffe (Pierre Valcour), and Napoleon's sweetheart Jeanne Labrie (Therese Cadorette). They included in their tour, visits to Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and of course, Vancouver.

Starting in October, Lemelin will be serving up his usual blend of pathos and humour, with new complications, plenty of surprises and new characters to add extra colour and interest. Characters viewers are likely to meet for the first time this year are: a tenor who has lost his voice; Pete dans le Trefle (a neighbour of the Plouffes' fun-loving relative, Uncle Gedeon); and a psychiatrist, who may find his hands full if he tries to help the members of the family with their problems.

With another season of "The Plouffe Family" about to be launched, it would be interesting to speculate on how much is pure fiction and how much is based on actual experience of the author. More than one observer has commented on the realism that is found in Roger Lemelin's writing. To these people, Lemelin explains that he is primarily a novelist whose characters and situations develop in his own imagination but usually provide at least a partial reflection of his real-life experiences. He starts by imagining characters and stories, then after 'they are written he recognizes resemblances with people he has met before. "I always find," he says, "that the best episodes I have written are the transposition of events I have lived long ago."

To Roger Lemelin, writing about the good Plouffes come easy and naturally, while writing about the bad Plouffes is done with difficulty and the process is an unhappy one for him.

There's a bit of the author in every one of his characters. "All of us have many possible personalities within our-serves," he remarks. "That is why people are complicated. I try to develop all these personalities into characters. The 'family feeling' in the Plouffes is so strong because the Plouffes are really one man."

With many new story ideas developing in his mind, Roger Lemelin declares that 30 minutes a week is not enough—"I would like to have 60 minutes at least!" Just the same, he often finds that writing "The Plouffe Family" is a terrible burden for one man. "It's extraordinarily challenging and sometimes very frustrating"—but, says avid yachtsman Roger Lemelin, "that's the kind of boat I like to command."

"The Plouffe Family" will have a new producer, Guy Beaulne, but the principal members of the cast will remain the same.

From CBC Times, Sept 27, 1957

"The Plouffes Are Back"

Mama Plouffe and all her lovable brood will be back for another season, starting Friday, October 4, at 6:30 p.m. on CBWT. All the familiar characters will be there— plus a few new ones to add colour and interest to the weekly episodes. This will be the Plouffe's third year on the English television network of the CBC.

What will be happening this year? Although author Roger Lemelin won't say in detail, he has provided a few clues. Jeanne Labrie, now Mrs. Napoleon Plouffe, will be living with her husband and Napoleon's parents and two brothers in the house the family bought last year—a situation that could lead to any number of complications. Stan Labrie has gone through the sizable fortune he won on a sweepstake ticket and will be back working as a plumber's assistant for "Plouffe & Sons." Guillaume has to decide between a sports and a business career. Papa is hatching plans to make more money. Cecile and Onesime Menard have stayed in the old house and are renting the section formerly occupied by the family; and Ovide is anxiously watching the sales figures of the novel that he had published last spring despite protests from certain "respectable" members of the community. Most of the girls will be back, including reformed "bad girl" Tootsie Duquette, that fickle charmer Rita Toulouse and her more dependable namesake, Rita Toulouse, No. 2.

A new character who should be keeping things stirred up especially among the girls is Aime, the son of the Plouffes' fun-loving Uncle Gedeon. He is a regular chip off the old block and includes skirt-chasing among his favourite sports.

The Plouffes start the season off on October 4 with a dispute over their new house. In the centre of the argument is Josephine who objects to the ultra-modern paint job which was done by an artistic-minded interior decorator, a friend of Ovide. As things turn out, this proves to be only the beginning of their troubles.

The Plouffes Return

From CBC Times, Sept 26, 1958

The life of the Plouffe Family has been liberally salted with joy and sorrow over the years the series has been on CBC-TV but perhaps the hardest blow the family have had to endure was struck this past summer. Cecile Plouffe has died. Viewers will recall that towards the end of last season, Cecile was involved in a motor-cycle accident. Author Roger Lemelin reports that she died on July 2.

Actually, Denise Pelletier, who played the part of Cecile so realistically, is very much alive. Cecile's accident paved the way for Mile. Pelletier to tour with the Theatre du Nouveau Monde to New York, Brussels and Stratford, Ontario. From September to November of this year, she will tour Canada from coast to coast with the company.

Naturally, the hardest hit by Cecile's passing has been her husband, Onesime. When the series returns to the air this Friday Onesime is seriously considering hiring a maid to take care of the house. Mama Plouffe is against the move and insists that no other woman should replace Cecile. But life must go on. Napoleon Plouffe has gone into business for himself — making French fried potatoes in Onesime's garage in spite of complaints that the smell of grease is spreading through the house.

Some new faces will add interest to the weekly series and most of the regular characters will be back. Ovide Plouffe will appear occasionally, although his literary career has taken him to Paris where he seems to be living under rather strange circumstances. Closer to home, Uncle Gedeon too seems to be leading a secret life. Two new faces will belong to Uncle Gedeon — two daughters who will figure prominently in this season's adventures. Mama will continue to be a target for the tricks of the irrepressible Stan Labrie.

Viewers who follow the series must often wonder what becomes of the characters during the summer months when it is off the air. Amanda Alarie (Mama) enjoyed a complete rest from theatrical work and took a few trips on the St. Lawrence. Paul Guevremont (Papa) played in Marcel Dube's "Un Simple Soldat" at Gelinas' La Comedie Canadienne, E m i 1 e Genest (Napoleon) spent the summer at his cottage on Brome Lake, Knowlton, Quebec. Pierre Valcour (Guillaume) toured locally with a troupe that staged plays in provincial towns. Jean-Louis Roux (Ovide), Denise Pelletier (Cecile) and Huguette Oligny (Danielle Delorme) toured internationally with the Theatre du Nouveau Monde. Roland Bedard (Onesime) is a free-lance producer for the French network radio serial "Rue Principale." Jean Duceppe (Stan Labrie) was busy during the summer with his morning radio show on CKAC. Therese Cadorette (Jeanne) spent the summer with her family. Jean Coutu (Tit-me) went to Paris for a holiday. Guy Provost (Father Alexandre) performed with the Montreal Festival. Doris Lussier (Uncle Gedeon) made night club appearances and was emcee of the panel show, "Le Point d'interrogation."

Author's Tribute To Plouffe Cast

It is a tribute to the talents of Roger Lemelin, author of The Plouffe Family, that the series has retained tremendous popularity with English and French-speaking television audiences over the years. This prolific writer who has invented a host of characters endeared by viewers across Canada looks at the facts in a different light, however. Although one might expect such a fine cast to portray their parts admirably, Mr. Lemelin says that his actors and actresses create and build their roles beyond the boundaries of the script. His interesting observation is that an actor can help a writer by moulding talent and ideas into a tangible characterization.

Jean-Louis Roux, for example, has become so imbedded in the minds of ardent fans as Ovide Plouffe that many find it difficult to think of him in any other capacity. The extent of such impact was most apparent when viewers sent numerous gifts and good wishes to the fictional Cecile Plouffe on the birth of her "television" baby.

Roger Lemelin promises more interesting characters this season with less emphasis on the immediate family circle. He attended auditions recently for the part of Alain, a protege of Uncle Gedeon. Selected for the role from among 16 applicants was Guy Godin, a well-known French-Canadian star of stage, radio and television, who is a veteran performer though still in his 20's.

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For an in-depth look at CBC programs (1952-82),
Blaine Allan's directory