Jean LaPointe, former Canadian senator and entertainer, dead at 86

A beloved Canadian entertainer who also served as a senator in Canada’s parliament has passed away.

Jean LaPointe, an award-winning actor, comedian, singer-songwriter, and former senator from Quebec died on Friday at the age of 86, the Montreal Gazette reported.

According to a philanthropic addiction treatment foundation that bears his name, LaPointe succumbed to unspecified “health complications” while surrounded by loved ones.

Award-winning entertainer who helped battle addiction

The Canadian Press reported that LaPointe began his career as an entertainer as a teenager in a radio station in Quebec City before forming a popular music group known as the Jerolas with a friend named Jerome Lemay in 1955 that combined comedy with singing and toured across Canada and Europe and even appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1963.

The duo went their separate ways in 1974 and LaPointe proceeded to have a stellar award-winning solo career of his own with his mix of comedy and music. He also became a renowned actor who appeared in dozens of films and TV shows between 1970 and 2020.

Moreso than his acting, comedy, or singing, however, LaPointe’s arguably biggest claim to fame and a display of his true character was how he used his own prior struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in the 1960s and 70s to found an addiction treatment center and supportive foundation in his name in 1982 that still remains in operation.

“Our father always said that his greatest pride has always been Maison Jean Lapointe,” Anne Elizabeth Lapointe, his daughter who serves as general manager of the treatment center, said of her late father. “His departure saddens us, but we know that he will remain the soul of our establishment.”

His son, Jean-Marie LaPointe, also said, “Losing our father is a terrible ordeal, but knowing that his artistic and humanist heritage will live on in the hearts of Quebecers is comforting for us.”

Also an honored politician

Aside from his career as an entertainer, LaPointe also served as a politician later in life, as he was appointed in 2001 to be a senator from Quebec by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and he served in that role until he was age-limited into retirement in 2010 at 75.

In addition to the numerous awards and tributes he earned for his acting, comedy, and music, the Montreal Gazette noted that LaPointe was also honored in 1984 when he was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada and again in 2006 as an Officer of the National Order of Quebec.

“Today, we mourn the passing of Jean Lapointe, a man celebrated for his numerous contributions to the Canadian arts community, his philanthropy, and his service to Canadians as a former senator,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that praised LaPointe for his many achievements as an entertainer.

Trudeau also heralded LaPointe’s work to address addiction problems and his political service, and added, “On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I offer our sincere condolences to Mr. Lapointe’s family, friends, and his many fans. His legacy will be remembered for generations to come.”