Roger and Geraldine Doucet were Quebec federalists known as Mr. and Mrs. O Canada.
Geraldine (GiGi) (née Pisacano) Doucet
Born: 1929 (New York, New York)
Died: January 23, 2015 (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Geraldine Doucet was a beloved Montréal performer known for singing the bilingual version of the national anthem before Montreal Canadiens hockey games and Montreal Alouettes football games.
She was married to famed Québec tenor Roger Doucet, yet it was only after his death from brain cancer in 1981, at age 62, that his wife’s career fully blossomed. A staunch federalist, the silver-haired singer was known as Mr. O Canada and she quickly became known as Mrs. O Canada.
The couple met while studying at the New York College of Music. They were married in 1952. While she described their union as a partnership, her career took a secondary role to his own.
She was known in Québec for her one-woman show “Sophie Tucker” and for performing as Mother Superior in the stage musical “Nunsense.” In 1983, she hosted a talk show called “Geraldine” on the regional English-language CBC station in Montréal.
As well as her stage work, she was an indefatigable fundraiser and a joyous presence on telethons for charity. Her primary charity was the Roger Doucet Foundation, but she eagerly contributed her voice and presence to any seeking help.
In 1989, she sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral for Doug Harvey, the Canadiens’ Hall of Fame defenceman.
She was born in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood to a large Italian family. Her mother ran a fish business, while her father gambled. “He went to the track,” she told a Montreal magazine five years ago. “He was a bookie, a good-time charlie.” As a young girl, she joined in the church choir and took part in church plays.
She became a Canadian citizen in 1975, a time of political strife in Québec.
Doucet became frail in recent years, suffering from a variety of maladies, including dementia. She died of a stroke. She leaves her second husband, Ben Linds, three sons, and grandchildren.