Victoria and Vancouver Island Have Many ?Star Connections?

posted on Mar 02

After posting my article about Colin Firth’s (The King’s Speech) connections to Victoria via his marriage to Meg Tilly, I began pondering what about Meg’s sister Jennifer Tilly, another talented and well know movie actor with Victoria connections?

As I pondered Jennifer’s life in Victoria I began to develop a thread of personalities who, in some way, shape or form, have a connection with Vancouver Island, Victoria and other local neighbourhoods. In some cases I also realized that Trish and I had some personal connections with 2 or 3 of these well-known people (if you want to know “who” you’ll just have to read this posting).

I found all of this information enlightening and informative, and it made me realize that we all rub elbows with fame at some time in our lives.  Do you have an “elbow rubbing” story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.

Jennifer Tilly (Movie Actor, Poker Champion)

Born Jennifer E. Chan in Harbor City, Los Angeles, California, she is the second of four children of Harry Chan and Patricia Tilly, a schoolteacher and former stage actress.  Following her parents' divorce when she was five, Jennifer was raised by her mother and stepfather, John Ward, on Texada Island, B.C. Her mother divorced again when Jennifer was a teenager, and moved to Victoria, where Jennifer  attended Belmont High School. Jennifer Tilly began her acting career in her teenage years, through a theatre program at Stephens College in Missouri. She married Sam Simon in 1984, they divorced in 1991 and she is currently dating poker professional Phil Laak. In June 2005, Jennifer won a World Series of Poker bracelet (and $158,625) in the Ladies “No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em event”, outlasting 600 other players. She followed up this accomplishment on September 1, 2005, by also winning the third “World Poker TourLadies Invitational Tournament” held at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. In May 2006 Jennifer started dividing her time between her film career and professional poker and, by the end of 2008, she had returned, more or less full time, to her film and television career.

Kim Cattrall (Actor - Sex in the City and more)

Kim was born in Mossley Hill, Liverpool, England. When she was three months old, her family emigrated to Courtenay, B.C.  (central Vancouver Island).  At 11, she returned to England where she took a number of acting examinations with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before returning to British Columbia at age 16 to finish her final year of secondary school.  Kim Cattrall who, today, has moved waaaay beyond the Sex in the City “stereotype” that she was becoming, is now an esteemed and accomplished actor, recognized for her wide range of talents and the depth of performance abilities.  Kim has an older sister who is a schoolteacher in Courtenay, British Columbia.

Diana Krall (Jazz Pianist/Vocalist)

Diana was born in Nanaimo, B.C. (central Vancouver Island). Her father played piano around the house and her mother sang in a community choir. She was playing piano herself at the age of four and playing jazz in a local restaurant at 15.  She went to the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a scholarship before heading out to L.A. to play jazz. She returned to Canada to release her first album in 1993.  Diana lost her mother to multiple myelomain 2002, within months of also losing her mentors Ray Brown and Rosemary Clooney.  Diana's only sibling, Michelle, is a former member of the RCMP and is now the Project/Event Manager, Personal Assistant, Public Speaker, Web Manager, Marketing and Merchandise Director for Diana Krall LLC.  Diana and British musician Elvis Costello were married on December 6, 2003 at Sir Elton John's estate outside London and today maintain homes in New York City and in Nanoose Bay, a small community located just outside of Nanaimo.

Pamela Anderson (Baywatch Beauty…and Beyond)

Pamela was born in Ladysmith, BC (central Vancouver Island), the daughter of Barry Anderson, a furnace repairman, and Carol a waitress. After graduating from Highland Secondary School in 1985, Pamela moved to Vancouver and worked as a fitness instructor. During the summer of 1989 she went with her friends to a BC Lions game at BC Place; during the game she was shown on the stadium screen wearing a Labatt's t-shirt, causing the crowd to cheer for the 21-year-old Anderson.  There was also a time when Pamela worked for Tourism Victoria. (Trish’s “claim to fame”. Trish is friends with one of Pamela’s aunts, and when Pamela was still a teenager, Trish, Pamela and her aunt spent an enjoyable afternoon having tea together. If Trish had read her tea leaves that day, she might have predicted that Pamela would, some day, achieve superstardom).

Nelly Furtado  (Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, Actor)

Nelly grew up in Victoria, and came into the public eye in 2000 with the release of her debut album “Whoa, Nelly!”, which featured her breakthrough Grammy Award-winning single "I'm Like a Bird".  She has sold 20 million albums worldwide and 18 million singles, bringing her total sales to nearly 40 million records. After becoming a mother and releasing the less commercially successful “Folklore (2003), she returned to prominence in 2006 with the release of ”Loose” and its hit singles "Promiscuous", "Maneater", "All Good Things (Come to an End)" and "Say It Right". In 2009, she released her first full-length Spanish album “Mi Plan”, which won a Latin Grammy Awardi n 2010. Nelly has acknowledged her family as the source of her strong work ethic; she spent eight summers working as a chambermaid with her mother, along with her brother and sister who was a housekeeper in Victoria. She has stated that coming from a working class background has shaped her identity in a positive way.

David Foster (Musician, Music Producer)

Born in Victoria, David was a keyboardist for the Victoria popgroup, Skylark discovered by Eirik Wangberg. The band's song “Wildflower” was a top ten hit in 1972 (I remember it well from my “radio days” – always loved that song). David’s cousin, Billy Foster was a renowned racing car driver, the first Canadian ever to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Billy, tragically  died in a race car accident in 1967. (Just as an aside here….we live next door to the original garage that was once owned by Billy Fosters parents here in Victoria).  David has worked as a producer with a wide range of musical stars, including Andrea Bocelli, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, Charice Pempengco, Gloria Estefan, Nsync, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston, Cher, Kenny Loggins, Prince, Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Kenny Rogers, Boz Scaggs, Olivia Newton-John, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Beyonce Knowles, Destiny's Child, The Bee Gees, Bryan Adams, Christina Aguilera and many other people.

Jimi Hendrix (Rock Star, Guitar Superhero)

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, Washington, the first of five children to James Allen "Al" Hendrix, who was born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1919 and Lucille Jeter of Seattle. When Jimi was nine years old, his parents divorced. The divorce was caused by Lucille's alcoholism; she developed cirrhosis of the liver and died on February 2, 1958. On occasion, Jimi was placed in the care of his paternal grandmother in Vancouver, B.C. because of the unstable household in which he lived. Not many people know that, during this period, his father briefly moved here to Victoria where he performed janitorial services for local businesses. (Another aside here and another, although it’s stretching it a bit, Victoria connection…during my Pirate Radio days as a deejay with Radio Caroline, I was privileged to introduce Jimi Hendrix (and the Experience) to an audience gathered in the Chislehurst Caves in Kent….a venue popularized by the Radio Caroline “Friday Night Rave in the Cave”.  For me it was a night to remember)


Steve Nash (N.B.A. Basketball Star and Sports Hero)


Steve was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to a Welsh mother and an English father on 7 February 1974. His family moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, when he was 18 months old, then to Vancouver, before finally settling in Victoria, B.C.  Although Steve played soccer and ice hockey, often with his younger brother Martin, he did not start playing basketball until he was 12 or 13. However, in grade eight, he told his mother that one day he would play in the NBA and become a star. His predictions came true as he went on to become:

▪       2× NBA Most Valuable Player: 2005, 2006

▪       7× NBA All-Star: 2002–03, 2005–08, 2010

▪       7× All-NBA selection

▪       One of only five players to have ever shot 50-40-90

▪       One of only two players to have shot 50-40-90 more than once.

Today, Steve’s N.B.A. career continues to flourish as he plays point guard for the Phoenix Suns. He has also been honoured for his contributions to various philanthropic causes. In 2006, he was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He also received the Order of Canada in 2007, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law by the University of Victoria in 2008. (My connection with Steve Nash? During my tenure as an Account Exec with a local advertising agency, I had the good fortune of handling the account of a local Credit Union, where Steve’s father, John, was the VP Marketing….he was a great guy to work with).

Other Victoria/Vancouver Island neighbourhoods “Star Connections”:

▪       John Travolta has a huge beachfront estate a mile from Victoria International Airport (private jet owner that he is) near Deep Cove.

▪       Barbara Streisand has a place on Salt Spring Island (one of the Gulf Islands just a short ferry ride from southern Vancouver Island and close to Victoria.

▪       Kevin Costner has a place on Salt Spring Island.

▪       Burton Cummings lives in Brentwood Bay, just a few miles from central Victoria.

▪       The Kellogg family (cornflake fame and fortune) has a summer place on Salt Spring Island.

▪       Phil Collins lives part-time on Salt Spring Island.


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