Man of a thousand characters honoured Sept.20

With a couple of hats and a few props Sid Williams could transform himself into 10 characters in 10 minutes.

SID WILLIAMS APPEARS as Century Sam with Rosie the mule.

SID WILLIAMS APPEARS as Century Sam with Rosie the mule.

With a couple of hats and a few props Sid Williams could transform himself into 10 characters in 10 minutes.

He was part of the Comox Valley theatre community, both on and back stage, for 70 years. He also performed in commercials, made guest appearances in the TV program The Beachcombers and toured the province as Century Sam during BC’s centenary.

As they say in thespian circles, Williams “left the building” on Sept. 26, 1991 at the age of 92. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, nearly 20 years to the day after he died, Courtenay Little Theatre will pay homage to the short man with the tall heart.

The tribute begins at 8 p.m. at CLT’s The Space, located at 1625 McPhee just behind Jet FM Radio. The performance features short skits and reminiscences by those who knew and worked with Williams. Admission is free.

“Sid knew everyone in town and everyone knew him,” says Art Collins who wrote several songs for Williams. “He had what he called his ‘hat trick routine.’ He’d play one character for a few minutes then turn around and, with a hat, scarf or set of false teeth, totally transform into someone else. Audiences roared with laughter, everyone loved him.”

Collins wife, Joan, accompanied Williams on piano for 25 years. “I got to know Sid very well,” she says. “He was always a gentleman and always willing to help out if someone needed a favour.”

“And he was very professional. We always rehearsed whether we were performing for a small group or the whole community. Sid liked to tailor the performance to the audience. He had certain songs, like “Spread a Little Sunshine” that he opened his hat routine with. His whole attitude was to be happy and thankful for what we have.”

Mike Butler met Williams in 1945 and worked with him on many a stage set.

“I did survey work for the Ministry of Highways at the time and Sid would always say, ‘Oh, it’s within half an inch, if that’s good enough for government work, it’s good enough for us.”

“He had connections all throughout the community and was always scrounging stuff to use for sets,” continues Butler. “So I teased him back by saying, ‘Oh, here’s another $1.49 day set by Sid.”

Gail Limber was a cheerleader for the BC Lions when she performed on the same program in Vancouver as Williams for the Centennial Celebrations. After she moved to Courtenay, she played Mammy to his Pappy in Lil Abner.

“He was always joking around; often you didn’t know if he was serious or not,” she says. “He took his teeth out to play Pappy and tried to convince me to take mine out too. But I didn’t have any removable teeth and wouldn’t have taken them out even if I did.”

“He was an absolute character and I learned a great deal from him,” Limber adds. “Probably the most important thing I learned about community theatre was that you can be a star on stage with an adoring audience but when the show’s over someone needs to sweep the stage and clean the toilets. Sid never had any pretensions; he was always willing to help out.”

But there was a serious side to Williams. He served on the City of Courtenay council for more than 20 years and was instrumental in the building of the Memorial Pool and many other community projects, as well as unofficially looking after the civic theatre for many years.

Williams was a founding member of the Comox District Mountaineering Club, served on the board of the Courtenay Recreation Association and co-owned Ski Tak Hut when it first opened and later owned Searle’s Shoes.

His fun-loving and incredibly generous nature touched many. His contributions have been recognized in many ways including being named Freeman of the City in 1968, receiving the Eric Hamber Award in 1963 for his outstanding commitment in the field of theatre and the being inducted into the Order of Canada in 1984. In 1991, the Comox Valley civic theatre was named in his honour.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

James Hutchison was sentenced in court for a robbery from April 2019. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Accused sentenced for early morning robbery in Courtenay

Hutchison gets credit for 218 days in custody but given 120 more days in jail

Tidal Café owners Blythe and Kurt Reimer (left) and Toscano’s head chef and general manager Tristan Taylor have been sharing deck space to help both businesses during the expanded COVID public health order restrictions that ban indoor dining. Photo by Terry Farrell
Neighbouring Comox restaurants share patios for mutual benefit during COVID restrictions

Two restaurants in Comox are working together to help ease the burden… Continue reading

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
A little girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

John Ludlow is making leis for sale for $20 each, with all proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Celebrating kindness, joy and helping others on Lei Day

Ludlow is making leis for sale with proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society

Cumberland is finalizing its tax rate bylaw for the year, which will see a 4.93 per cent increase. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland moving ahead on 4.93 tax hike

Residential rates’ hike was less than projected during planning stages

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

LUSH Valley is seeking help from local governments to help restart its Good Food Box program for vulnerable citizens. File photo
Courtenay to determine contribution to Good Food Box program

The City of Courtenay is in the process of determining an appropriate… Continue reading

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

A man accused of choking a 15-year-old in his tent in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night has been arrested by Victoria police. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man accused of choking, sexually exploiting 15-year-old in Victoria tent arrested

Police arrested the 38-year-old in Beacon Hill Park Wednesday afternoon

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Most Read