Billy Van is a well known and eminently talented Canadian comic actor.
He was born William Van Evera in Toronto, Canada in 1934. He showed show business talent as a teenager when he and his four brothers formed a singing act that toured North America. His first on screen performance was as a performer on the CBC program Nightcap. In the early days of his career he also fronted the group "The Billy Van Four" and recorded at least one album as a member of the group "The Billy Van Singers".
During his early years Billy Van honed his craft for comedy. In 1971, his comedic talent was showcased on a children’s series called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. In Canada, it is certainly the show that he is best known for, not only because he played almost every character on the show, but mainly due to the sheer genius of his comedy. The show was meant for children, but the humour undoubtedly appealed to adults, especially when Van was seen to adlib, often inserting his own topical jokes and asides into the dialogue. Remarkably, one season of 130 episodes of the show was produced in the span of about 9 months in a studio in Hamilton, Ontario.
Later he found his best success as a guest performer in sketches on variety shows such as The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Ray Stevens Show and The Bobby Vinton Show. He was making a name for himself on mainstream US television, but working in Los Angeles did not appeal to him and he returned to Toronto. There he found work in shows like Party Game, Bizarre, and The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show.
In 1998, after he underwent triple heart bypass, Billy went into semi-retirement and only continued to do voice-over work for commercials and animated programs.
In 2002, Billy Van was diagnosed with cancer. He fought the disease for a year before he passed away at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital on 6 Jan 2003. He is survived by his wife Susan and his four children.
Billy Van's picture appears on the Canadian Comedy Wall of Fame at the CBC broadcast centre in Toronto. However, to this day (2006), he does not have a star on “Canada’s Walk of Fame”.