The most widely known Canadian throughout the world is from Ontario. One in four people on this planet are completely familiar with the life and accomplishments of this unusual person..yet few Canadians have heard of or
know very little about Dr. Norman Bethune. If you go to 235 John Street North, Gravenhurst, a treasure of a community in Muskoka, you will arrive at the house where Norman Bethune was born March 3, 1890. The Canadian Government designated Doctor Bethune's birthplace as an historical site in 1973. There is a museum next door to his home dedicated to his purposeful life and accomplishments involving procedural medical development.
Norman Bethune devoted his adult life to the cause of healing on the battlefields of the First Great War, the Spanish Civil War and the Sino-Japanese War in China. He was one of the first physicians to develop the concept of mobile medical units enabling surgical operations and blood transfusions on the battlefield, thereby saving the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers where they fell.
Dr. Bethune died in China November 12, 1939 from accidental blood poisoning contracted during an operation he was performing while on the battlefront.
Another Canadian too few of us know is Toronto born Ruth Lowe.
Yet, listening to the familiar lyrics of the song "I'll Never Smile Again," recognition will register immediately not only for most Canadians but for many people throughout the world. Ruth Lowe was born in 1915. She married Harold Cohen in 1938. Harold died from kidney failure during a routine operation just one year after their marriage. Devastated by the tragic and
premature death of her husband, Ruth scripted and composed her immortal song "I'll Never Smile Again" while staying at her mother's home at 723 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Pearl, Ruth's mother, lived in a third floor apartment overlooking the impressive Christie Pitts Park in the center of the city.
Just as Abraham Lincoln's address of a mere two hundred and seventy-two words, spoken at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863, captured the aspirations and hopes of a nation, the lyrics "I'll Never Smile Again" expressed the sorrow and grief of those who lost loved ones in the Second World War. The impact throughout the world of Ruth Lowe's composition was immeasurable. It was and still is an anthem of remembrance for those of us who have experienced the loss of someone dear to us.
Tommy Dorsey recorded "I'll Never Smile Again" on April 23. 1940. Frank Sinatra sang the vocal. It was Sinatra's first recording, launching his career as the premier vocal performer in the world. He also performed the song in his 1941 movie debut Las Vegas Nights.
FRANK SINATRA RUTH TOMMY DORSEY
"I'll Never Smile Again" was part of the soundtrack of the 1997 Hollywood movie Lolita starring Melanie Griffith. "Put your Dreams Away," also a Ruth Lowe composition and another Sinarta musical hit, was performed at Frank Sinatra's funeral in 1998.
It is noteworthy that in the late 1930s Ruth toured with the Ina Ray Hutton's all-female jazz band The Melodears, which was the life counterpart of the band in the 1959 hit movie Some Like it Hot staring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis. Below is a photograph of Ruth and Bob Hope.
Ruth died on January 24, 1981, at the age of 66. One year later she was inducted into the American Music Hall of Fame. In December, 2003, Ruth was inducted into the Canadian Song Writers Hall of Fame. Two sons, Tommy and Stephen Sandler, survive her. Both live in Toronto. Tommy, named after Tommy Dorsey, is a highly regarded and gifted photographer. He photographed the remarkable photograph of his mother shown at the beginning of this tribute.
"I'll never smile again,
Until I smile at you.
I'll never laugh again.
What good would it do?
For tears would fill my eyes,
My heart would realize,
That our romance is through.
I'll never love again,
I'm so in love with you.
I'll never thrill again,
To somebody new.
Within my heart,
I know I will never start
To smile again,
Until I smile at you."
We thank Ruth Lowe for her contribution and support during the trying periods all of us have faced at one time or another.