sctvAre you a fan of SCTV, the brilliant Canadian sketch comedy show that originally aired between 1976 and 1984? If you’re not, you need to be. An offshoot of Toronto’s Second City, SCTV starred Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty and Rick Moranis. A few other people joined the cast over the years including Tony Rosato and Robin Duke. The premise of the show was the on-air and behind-the-scenes goings-on at a small independent television station in the fictitious town of Melonville. The characters presented by the outrageously talented cast members are too numerous to mention but include leopard-clad station manager Edith Prickley (Martin), comedian Bobby Bittman (Levy), faded superstar Johnny LaRue (Candy), talk-show host Sammy Maudlin (Flaherty), albino Las Vegas headliner Jackie Rogers, Jr. (Short), bawdy comedienne Dusty Towne (O’Hara), corrupt mayor Tommy Shanks (Candy), polka musicians The Schmenge Brothers (Candy and Levy), the beer-chugging McKenzie Brothers (Thomas and Moranis) and many more including dead-on impersonations of countless real-life celebrities from Bob Hope to Divine. But I think my all-time favorite SCTV character was that pill-popping pixie Lola Heatherton, played to perfection by Catherine O’Hara.

lola-juulLola wore her heart on her sleeve and could morph from her enthustiastic “I LOVE YOU! I wanna BEAR your children!” to a sobbing mess in about three seconds. The bubbly singer was often accompanied by the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, a hilariously inept troupe led by Lola’s boyfriend Juul Haalmeyer and featuring  frighteningly clad dancers including Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, and other members of the show’s crew. I recently learned about a documentary that is currently being made about Juul Haalmeyer who, in reality, was the talented costume designer throughout SCTV’s run. I called director Erin McMichael in Toronto the other day to discuss the upcoming film project. She’s been shooting Haalmeyer, who currently runs a costume and vintage clothing business in Toronto and only recently got onto the Internet and learned what a pop culture icon he is! McMichael is still raising funds for the documentary and sent along this fun Indiegogo video:

Juul Haalmeyer documentary – campaign video from Norton Films on Vimeo.

I asked Erin if Juul shared his feelings about Catherine O’Hara. “Oh, he has a deep admiration for her. In his apartment he has this amazingly beautiful watercolor of Juul that Catherine gave him when the show ended. She signed it in one handwriting as herself and then in a completely different handwriting as Lola Heatherton!”


It was Catherine’s idea for Haalmeyer to head up a miserable troupe of dancers to surround Lola. “It was her concept to use non-dancers involved with the show,” MicMichael said. “She knew that if they hired real dancers they would never be able to mimic the level of ineptitude they were looking for.” It was also O’Hara’s idea to start a romance between Lola and Juul.” Haalmeyer choreographed the dance numbers but gives Eugene Levy credit for their signature move in which they point their fingers down and back away.

juulhaalmeyer1McMichael stressed that while Juul is mostly known for the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, he is an award-winning costume designer in his own right. In addition to the crazy costumes on SCTV, Haalmeyer worked on many shows throughout the 1970s. “He was the costume designer for Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare Special in 1975,” McMichael mentioned, “and also did costumes for Shari Lewis, the performer who was famous for her sock puppet Lamb Chop. When Juul  first started on that show, he was told he had to make six life-sized Lamb Chops for the very next day. He rushed to his mother, a talented seamstress who made all of his clothes growing up and asked her to help. They pulled it off and she ended up working as his assistant for decades.” Haalmeyer dressed many of the big stars of the day, from Dolly Parton to Phyllis Diller to Ike and Tina Turner.

All of SCTV’s best sketches are available on DVD. I think my favorite Juul Haalmeyer appearance was in Lola Heatherton’s Love Spirit Christmas Special. That one is not available online but feast your eyes on an equally great holiday moment for Juul, The Dusty Towne Sexy Holiday Special, also starring Catherine O’Hara:

Click here to check out the Indiegogo page for the Juul Haalmeyer documentary and additional fun material on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.