The actress and politician Andrée Champagne passed away at the age of 80, leaving to mourn her relatives, as well as thousands of Quebec viewers for whom she has always remained Donalda, the tragic heroine of “Beautiful stories from the countries above” which she embodied for 15 years on the small screen.
This blonde with blue eyes was barely 17 years old when she obtained the first female role in the great series of Radio-Canada inspired by the novel “A man and his sin”. For more than a decade, she and Jean-Pierre Masson have formed a dysfunctional as well as famous couple, a mythical entity that even young people today have heard of.
Her daily distress has in fact fueled conversations for more than 15 years in Quebec homes. At one time, viewers revolted by the behavior of her fictitious husband, a stingy who deprived her of everything, sent her blankets and food!
In addition to her talents as an actress, Andrée Champagne was also a singer and host. She participated in various radio shows, hosted the opening ceremonies of Expo 67 as well as those of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
But she was not just a popular star. A convinced federalist, she thus put her voice at the service of the No campaign during the 1980 referendum. As she summed it up herself in her autobiography Champagne for everyone !, “The female voice of the slogan” Canada is here, I am staying there “was me and I have not changed my mind”.
She was also a seasoned and committed businesswoman, who created her own distribution company, Duo Casting, and became involved in the Union des artistes, of which she was successively vice-president then general secretary, between 1981 and 1984.
It was around this time that she founded Le Chez-nous des artistes, a unique retirement home for television creators and artisans, among others. The establishment, which is located in Montreal, has nearly 80 apartments.
In April 1984, she visited the USSR as a delegate to the conference of the International Federation of Actors on the application of UNESCO recommendations relating to the status of the artist.
Her work at the UDA gave her a taste for politics and she was easily persuaded to take the leap alongside Brian Mulroney in 1984. Her dream: to advance the cause of artists.
She was elected under the Conservative banner in her native riding of Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, which she represented in the House of Commons until the end of the reign of the “Blues” in 1993.
During her first stay in Ottawa, she was, among other things, Minister of State for Youth and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.
After his electoral defeat, Andrée Champagne returned to her first love: the small and the big screen. She notably held roles in Scoop , Omertà and Juliette Pomerleau. For ten years, she also dubbed films and computer games in both official languages.
She attempted a return to the House of Commons with the Harper Conservatives in 2004, but was unsuccessful in getting elected. Appointed to the Senate on the recommendation of Paul Martin in 2005, she chose to sit as a curator.
In 2007, she contracted meningitis during a diplomatic trip. Complications from the illness resulted in his condition worsening upon his return to the country. The doctors put him in a coma for 42 days.
When she woke up, she had to undertake a long rehabilitation and work on her memory. She recounts in detail her fight in a new autobiography entitled “I come back from afar”.
During his coma, the doctors who had lost hope were ready to stop the treatments. This episode caused the senator to express great reservations about the Quebec law concerning end-of-life care.
During her tenure as a senator, Andrée Champagne was very involved in files concerning linguistic minority groups in Canada. She was also involved internationally, being appointed president of the Assembly of Parliamentarians of the Francophonie in 2013.
She had to leave the Senate in 2014, when she celebrated her 75th birthday. Three years later, she was made a member of the Order of Canada.
Andrée Champagne shared her life for many years with the internationally renowned pianist André Sébastien Savoie.
Previously, she had been married for 15 years to a Montreal Royals hockey player, Walter (Wally) Clune, with whom she had two children, Liliane and Patrick, both of whom had careers in television and the cinema.
Patrick also tried to follow in his mother’s footsteps by running in the federal elections of 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2019. However, he did not succeed in getting elected.