Profile of Ben Kopelow

[Interviewed by Grace Hann]
Ben Kopelow

Very cold in winter and very hot in summer! That is how I describe growing up in Winnipeg. My parents owned a chain of grocery stores and I was expected to tow the line. I grew up with three brothers and one sister. We were a close knit family. While very young, my creative self surfaced when I was introduced to skits and plays. I knew that hearing laughter and giggles from an audience was something I yearned for.

My life settled down somewhat after moving to Vancouver. I became more immersed in the Arts. I got to know the local theatre scene and joined Repertoire Productions and Vancouver Little Theatre Association. My first appearance was in Three Men on A Horse, followed by Room Service. How I loved those days!

One evening while at a community dance, a woman with her friend walked into the room, I knew right away that I had just met my future bride, Dolly Halpern. That was sixty-three years ago. We had two children Gordon and Bryna. They mean everything to us. Dolly knew that more than anything I loved show biz, and she supported and guided me with the creation of the Barnstormers Theatre Company along with Max Pawer and Doug Hellier. This took on a new dimension for me. Some of our productions included Diary of Anne Frank, Once More with Feeling, A Night in The Nineties, etc. I then moved on to do more comedy and acted in Annie Get your Gun, Guys and Dolls to name a few. Oh, the life of being in show biz, I cannot imagine my life without this. I was passionate, consumed and I enjoyed every minute!

In 2010, my vision began to fail me, I retired and had to make decisions based on my health. This meant selling our home which we had lived in for sixty years and moving into a condo. With this also meant the loss of my independence as I had to give up driving. But it was acting which I missed so much! All of these changes led to my depression and despair. Dolly became quite ill, my special vibrant love has now been confined to a wheel chair, unable to move on her own. Luckily for me I have a very supportive son and daughter.

One day, someone recommended Jewish Seniors Alliance to me. Through Charles and Grace, I have great support from their volunteers. This has been a constant form of encouragement and understanding. I would like to mention Dr. Harold Laimon (z’l) who had helped me tremendously. Dr. Laimon (z’l) called me on a regular basis right up to the week of his passing. We were able to share stories and engage in great conversations. Larry Shapiro, another volunteer, visits with me once a week and I know I can count on him!

“There’s no people like show people, they smile when they are low.” – Irving Berlin