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From the Archives: A Star is born

October 24, 2017 Maggie Shane, ATA Archivist
ATA president-elect Mac Kryzanowski (left) strikes a pose with The Beachcombers star Bruno Gerussi in 1977.
ATA president-elect wins national look-alike contest
Leading up to its official 100th anniversary in June 2018, the Alberta Teachers’ Association is celebrating its history through a number of initiatives, one of which is this column. Curated by archivist Maggie Shane and appearing in each issue of the ATA News this year, this column will feature significant moments and individuals in the Association’s history as well as interesting artifacts or documents from the Association’s archives.


The year was 1977. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau sent congratulations to new U.S. president Jimmy Carter. The world mourned the death of Elvis Presley. A new house would run you $49,000; tack on another $7,990 for that new BMW 320i in the garage. Kids on summer vacation strapped on roller skates and their wrist-worn AM radios and grooved to Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light,” The Eagles’ “New Kid in Town,” and ABBA’s irresistible “Dancing Queen.” Industry wondered if the first Apple computer was worth the $667 price tag. 

It was also the fifth season of CBC television’s The Beachcombers and the broadcaster was running a look-alike contest to find someone resembling the show’s star Bruno Gerussi. A classically trained actor who was born in Medicine Hat, Gerussi was among Canada’s most famous faces. The contest winner would not only meet Gerussi but would also appear in an episode of the wildly popular show.

After the nationwide search drew 500 entries, a winner was declared, and he turned out to be a dead ringer for Gerussi. Not only that, but he was also from Medicine Hat. The winner was Kenneth (Mac) Kryzanowski, a 37-year-old school principal, who was the president-elect of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“It was so eerie. The resemblance is striking. Mac could easily be my brother,” Gerussi said, as reported in The Brandon Sun.

Kryzanowski’s daughters had convinced him to shave his beard and enter the contest. After he won, the entire family spent six days in Gibsons, B.C., where the show was filmed, watching the production. Kryzanowski had a small role as the cousin of Gerussi’s Nick Adonidas character, while his wife and three children served as extras.

Kryzanowski had never acted before and declared to CBC radio’s Peter Gzowski that it was “hard, tough work.”

When the Sun asked if he’d caught the acting bug, Kryzanowski replied, “Well, sort of … it’s been a wonderful experience and I’d love to do it again.” ❚

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