Singer, songwriter, pianist, actor, born Montreal of Lebanese parents, 19 Aug 1928, died there 14 Sep 2006. Possessing a voice naturally similar to that of Al Jolson, Brooks began his career in his late teens, singing in the Jolson style in Montreal nightclubs, often in duet with his sister Annie (who as Anne Brooks later sang in Canadian and US nightclubs). During his career he has returned frequently to Jolson routines, but he also has sung in a more personal style. By the early 1950s he had moved from clubs to theatres - eg, the Seville in Montreal and the Casino Theatre in Toronto. He made two 78s for Canadian Victor at this time.
In 1953 he went to New York where he appeared in nightclubs and recorded 'Hello Sunshine,' a substantial hit that year for Zodiac, a label established expressly for Brooks. He was a popular nightclub and TV performer in the USA during the 1950s and 1960s, appearing, for example, for 44 weeks 1959-60 at The Sands Hotel, Las Vegas. He also performed frequently in Canadian nightclubs and on CBC TV, and was host for CTV's 'Musical Showcase' in 1966. He appeared in 1975 on Broadway in The Magic of Jolson and subsequently sang and played piano in New York nightclubs and continued to tour. He performed in 1979 at PDA.
Brooks' other recordings include singles for Zodiac and for RCA's 'X' label, LPs of Jolson material for Spin-O-Rama, Coronet, Diplomat, and Sutton, and LPs of pop songs - some his own - for Verve, Sure, Promenade and Venus (see Kinkle's Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz for details). Brooks played Jolson in the The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) and had dramatic roles in The Block (1963) and Ocean's Eleven (1965).