With matinee-idol looks and an easy-listening sound that came to be associated with the more innocent, insouciant moments of 1960s Quebec, Pierre Lalonde, who has died at age 75, followed in his father's footsteps to become a crooner.
Flawlessly bilingual, he appeared on both French- and English-language television, and hosted a cult TV show, Jeunesse d'aujourd'hui, that helped to popularize made-in-Quebec music.
Mr. Lalonde died Monday evening after a long illness.
His agent, Ginette Achim, confirmed in an interview with The Globe and Mail that Mr. Lalonde died surrounded by family in a residence in a suburb outside Montreal.
Ms. Achim did not disclose his cause of death, but the singer had revealed six years ago that he had Parkinson's disease.
During a show-business career that began before he could read, Mr. Lalonde was a child actor on radio, a heartthrob celebrity, then a silver-haired pop-culture icon.
His death prompted several notable Quebeckers, including Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, to post links on social media to videos of Mr. Lalonde's greatest hits, such as his bubbly 1963 tune C'est le temps des vacances.
Though his poor health had kept him from the spotlight in recent years, in 2004 Mr. Lalonde could still pack a concert hall at age 63, joking to La Presse after a performance that drew 23,000 people in Repentigny that "little girls of 14 knew the words to my songs. Obviously their moms must have played my greatest hits during family parties."
Though he came of age during an era when many other Quebec performers were caught up in the province's independence movement, Mr. Lalonde remained as staunchly apolitical as his music was middle-of-the-road.
"I am not a professor, I am not a politician, I am not a doctor. I don't sing about AIDS, politics or the economy. Me, I want people to smile when they listen to my record," he told La Presse on the release of his 1994 album La voix d'une génération.
In a 1969 interview with The Globe and Mail, he said fellow Quebec singer Pauline Julien, a well-known sovereigntist, "thought she was Joan of Arc and it didn't work."
He added that as soon as an artist got a good manager, "he dissuades [the artist] from separatism."
Mr. Lalonde had gone to high school in Long Island, New York, and was smoothly bilingual, at one time hosting competing television shows in Montreal and New York. He later headlined a game show on CTV.
He noted once that, thanks to his television work in English, he would get recognized in Montreal's anglophone enclave of Westmount and even in Edmonton and Vancouver.
"Pierre has a face that's boyishly handsome, a manner that's quiet and assured, and a clean-cut look that endears him to mothers as much as daughters," the 1969 Globe and Mail article said, in explaining his wholesome appeal.
He was born Jan. 20, 1941, one of the two children of Jean Lalonde and Marie-Paule Bolduc.
His father was a crooner, often described as the Bing Crosby of Quebec, who also performed in English under the name Jack Forbes. The elder Mr. Lalonde was also a pioneer in Quebec's nascent private radio and became the owner of a station in Saint-Jérôme.
Young Pierre made his debut in show business at the age of four as a radio child actor.
He couldn't read or write yet so his mother read his lines to him each evening so that he could memorize them.
In a 2004 interview with La Presse, he recalled that his parents split when he was six, so his earnings from his radio work helped to support his mother and him.
By the time he turned 14, however, his mother had remarried, to an American man, and moved to Long Island. It was there that Mr. Lalonde perfected his English and was exposed to Dick Clark's American Bandstand, he later told La Presse.
Moving back to Montreal, his beginnings as a pop singer coincided with the 1962 debut of an American Bandstand-style show that he had pitched to the private television station Télé-Métropole.
Mr. Lalonde initially co-hosted Jeunesse d'aujourd'hui with Joël Denis before going solo. For a decade, the show was a mandatory pit stop for Quebec pop singers seeking broadcast exposure.
"When you appeared on Jeunesse d'aujourd'hui, you were certain you'd have success with your song," the singer Michel Louvain told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
In 1967, Mr. Lalonde's success as a host brought him to the attention of American TV producers who offered him a music show for the New York television station WPIX, where he was billed as "Peter Martin."
A 1968 article in Billboard magazine noted that he was probably the only TV personality competing with himself; his French-language show in Montreal, which was live, aired at the same time as the American show, which was also broadcast north of the border.
On a typical week, he would fly to New York on Tuesday, taping The Peter Martin Show on Wednesday and Thursday. He would return to Montreal on Friday and broadcast his live show on Saturday.
The Billboard article noted that The Peter Martin Show was so popular in the U.S. that 55,000 fans showed up at the Palisades amusement park, across the Hudson River from New York, for a "Peter Martin Day" concert.
Nevertheless, he eventually decided to remain in Canada.
"It was fun except that I was killing myself," he said in a 1969 interview with The Globe and Mail. "I lived in a suitcase. I had to choose and I'd rather make a comfortable living here than make a million in New York. I hate New York and I hate Paris. Both seem to be made out of machines."
Through the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to alternate stage appearances and TV hosting gigs, including emceeing the Telethon of Stars.
In the 1990s, he also dabbled in business. Partnering with the singer Jean Lapointe, he launched Bonjour USA, a short-lived cable company that offered French-language programming for Quebec snowbirds wintering in Florida.
His survivors include his wife, Claire Lewis; four children, Alexandra, Andrea, Jean-Pierre and Marie-Clare; and two grandchildren.