John Arthur Rae was born in Winnipeg in 1922, and was on stage as early as three years old, performing a Vaudeville-style song and dance act with his older brother and sister – The Three Raes of Sunshine. With his parents acting as managers, the family toured Canada off and on while he was growing up, and the trio were also regular guests on a number of radio programs.
But after finishing high school, he enlisted in the Air Force, and flew the Spitfire in European theatres during the Second World War, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. Upon his return, he moved to Toronto and wound up working behind the scenes at the CBC Radio, producing shows by Wayne & Shuster and Gisele McKenzie. This led him to being offered his own variety program in the early ’50s – The Jackie Rae Show. The show ran for a few years and he moved to London, England in ’56.
There, he not only starred on numerous TV game shows and variety shows for the BBC, ATV, and Granada, it’s also where he began his recording career (with the Johnny Gregory Orchestra in 1958), and also met his wife, Jannette Scott. With her, he recorded “Sweet Talk” in ’59, and the first of a successful string of solo hits a year later, with “The Moon Got In My Eyes” from the soundtrack to “A Summer Place.”
While there, he also began writing for other artists, including Englebert Humperinck, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Petula Clark, Ray Coniff, and the #1 country hit “Please Don’t Go” for Eddy Arnold, to name a few.
Now pretty much retired, he eventually moved back to Canada in the mid ’70s, and formed the Spitfire Band with trumpeter Micky Erbe and trombonist Laurie Bower. They not only recorded for Columbia, but also toured the country with their big band. He also appeared on The Larry Flahive Trio’s 1984 album STANDARD FLAY. His own version of “Happy Heart,” recorded by over a dozen artists in several languages over the years, also made its rounds in various easy listening compilation discs.
In 2002, he was named as a Member of the Order of Canada. Rae died in his Toronto home in 2006 at the age of 84.