The Multi-Talented Judy Ginn Walchuk
West Ender and Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) resident Judy Ginn Walchuk is a quadruple threat — at the very least!
She sings, she dances, she acts, she writes and she creates amazing mosaics and decorative lamp shades. And that just scratches the surface of this amazing woman’s career and contributions to the cultural life of our community.
One might think of PAL, in the West End’s Coal Harbour community, as a “retirement” home for performing artists. But we put “retirement” in quotation marks, because in reality artists aren’t the retiring types. Many PAL residents are still enjoying busy careers, and most of the others are usually up to some “project” or another. PAL may be seen by some as a retirement residence, but who’s got time for that?
Certainly not Judy Ginn Walchuk, an entertainer well-known to those who listened to CBC radio in the 70’s, hosting the “Judy & Jim Show”, a music/comedy variety show, with her brother Jim Walchuk.
As a result of the vibrant and supportive atmosphere of PAL Judy continues to perform, produce CDs, write plays (her most recent collaboration, “Comfort Cottages” ran last year at PAL Studio Theatre to tremendous applause) and somehow find the time to create beautiful mosaics and colourful lampshades.
Born in 1945 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Judy started traveling at the early age of four by moving to Vancouver in 1949. By the age of seven, Judy had developed a commanding presence that even adults many years her senior could not match.
Judy made one of her first appearances on the Glenburn Dairy talent show on CKNW and captivated audiences at the renowned Kitsilano Showboat through the early 50s. Still in her teens, the early 60’s found Judy hitting the airwaves on CBC Radio and Television in Vancouver and Toronto.
Venturing out on her own in the late 60’s Judy started touring across Canada, performing at many of the grand hotels and supper clubs for a decade under the stage name of Judy Ginn.
In 1969 Judy recorded her first album “Introducing Judy Ginn” for RCA and later formed a duo with her brother Jim, writing their own material and touring with a five-piece band and performing in hotel lounges throughout Canada.
Always the consummate performers, Judy and Jim starred in their first CBC television series in 1971, a musical variety show titled…you guessed it… “Judy and Jim.”
The end of 1971 saw the talented duo as guests on the Merv Griffin show and charming audiences nightly in the playboy clubs of Los Angeles.
Judy’s second album, released in 1972 and titled “Jude” showcased all original material and was produced by Quality Records Canada.
Catching the travel bug again, the duo moved to London, England and worked the Playboy Club, performed at Quaglino’s, the world famous Coventry theatre, appeared on BBC Television and Radio and also did stops in Bristol and Liverpool, and were invited by David Frost to sing at Noel Coward’s birthday party.
1976 saw the brother and sister team returning to Canada and this was their year for television. They balanced a hectic schedule of playing the Cave Theatre Restaurant, guest appearances on The Tommy Hunter Show in Toronto, the Paul Horn show in Vancouver and 13 episodes of their own nationally broadcast CBC series “The Judy and Jim Show”.
Tropical waves beckoned in 1977 when the pair went on a journey to Hawaii to join the Don Ho Show at the International Marketplace, with Jim in the band and Judy singing to a packed house. Performances at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas that year were also to rave reviews.
The bright lights of Hollywood lured them back to Los Angeles in 1978 to do five performances on the Merv Griffin Show and entertain at the Playboy Club -- all the while working as writers. Judy has fond memories of star-studded Hollywood parties, playing charades with Lucille Ball and Milton Berle, and rubbing shoulders with Edward G. Robinson and the Gabor sisters.
After 30 years of singing and performing, Judy stepped out of the spotlight in 1982 to open Shady Business in Venice Beach. She created custom-made lampshades for clients - many of those celebrities including Pam Dawber, Goldie Hawn, Bernadette Peters, Henry Mancini, and Ashley Judd, to name a few.
In 1988, after 16 years in the LA fast-lane, Judy came home to Vancouver to open Wally’s Folly on Dunbar and 41st - continuing to create illuminating shades and filling her schedule by writing jingles and show tunes, poetry, doing studio work and voice-overs.
Jim was not far behind. Returning to Vancouver in 1989 he opened his own recording studio, W3 Sound, where he has been producing specialty scores for conferences, writing and producing commercials and producing CD’s for various artists around the world.
In 2011, The Flying Walchuks …Without a Net was released, with one cut, titled “Sing,” featuring the back-up vocals of another creative force of nature, Vancouver’s Sing City Show Choir.
Judy’s many fans in Vancouver, across Canada and around the world are always thrilled to hear of her latest project, be it a live performance, a new play, a display of mosaics for the PAL lobby, or … whatever she turns her talents to next.
And yes, there’s a new musical in the works, so watch this space for further announcements.