April 23, 2015 12:07 pm
Updated: April 23, 2015 6:18 pm

Lois Lilienstein of Sharon, Lois & Bram fame dies at 78


WATCH ABOVE: Her smile was infectious and she had an exceptional ability to connect with children. Lois, from singing group Sharon Lois, and Bram has passed away at the age of 78. Allison Vuchnich has more.

TORONTO – Lois Lilienstein of Sharon, Lois & Bram fame has died. She was 78.

Her son David Lilienstein said she died Wednesday at home in Toronto surrounded by friends and family. She had a rare form of cancer, which was diagnosed last October.

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“She knew it was happening, she was at peace with it, and she died very peacefully and not in pain,” he said. “The care that she received at home through the various providers was stupendous.”

Lilienstein, along with Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison, created the beloved series “The Elephant Show,” which ran from 1984 to 1989 on CBC. It also aired in the United States on Nickelodeon, where it was a consistent ratings draw.

READ MORE: Skinnamarinky dinky dink, Toronto loves Sharon Lois and Bram

Hampson called Lilienstein “a woman of many ideas” who “would do anything” for her audience and was never concerned about being embarrassed while performing.

“It’s kind of hard to believe, we haven’t been singing together much in the last few years because Lois really had kind of withdrawn from all of that, but we were constantly in touch,” said a tearful Hampson.

“We fought like sisters but we loved each other like sisters, too. I just miss that relationship.”

Morrison said Lilienstein was “absolutely vivacious, creative, full of ideas and energy.”

“She came from a different musical place than Sharon and me. Sharon and I came out of the folk music world and she came out of the Broadway world. So it was a very interesting combination and I think that partly explains the success that we had,” Morrison said.

WATCH ABOVE: Sharon, Lois & Bram visit the Global studios to sing “Mrs. Fogarty’s Christmas Cake” from their holiday album “Candles, Snow and Mistletoe” (Nov 17, 1993)

“(It’s) very sad. It’s a shock. We’ve been together for 37 years. It’s like a marriage.”

Eric Nagler, who also appeared on “The Elephant Show,” said of Lilienstein: “the first thing that comes to my mind is her heart and her happiness.”

“She was always a giving person. And a caring person,” Nagler said. “I haven’t seen her very often since our professional relationship ended but she has always carried a warm place in my heart.”

The three-time Juno Award-winning trio issued its debut “One Elephant, Deux Elephants” in 1978.

“The Elephant Show” aired for 65 episodes, with each ending with the fan favourite “Skinnamarink.” In the late ’90s the group returned to the screen with “Skinnamarink TV,” which ran for 52 episodes.

WATCH ABOVE: Children’s song writer Fred Penner recounts his friendship with Lois. 

Lilienstein retired in 1998 after the death of her husband, Ernest, while Hampson and Morrison continued touring.

Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow, who got to know the Lilienstein family when he worked to dedicate a Toronto park in Sharon, Lois and Bram’s honour, says he grew up with the group’s music.

“She, along with Bram and Sharon, were part of the magic of our childhoods. Their music played a very special role in so many of our lives. Even today, those of us who are in our 30s and 40s can still sing verbatim the lyrics of ‘Skinnamarink,”‘ Matlow says.

“Lois dedicated her career to making children the world over so happy by her music. And I think I know that we are all grateful.”

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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