He was the son of famous Cavouk (Armenian, like Karsh) who had migrated to Canada with his family. His father had literally invented studio colour portraiture, with the backing of Agfa in Belgium. Colour outdoor pictures were common at the time, but indoor photography had to be coloured by hand (remember the foreign postcards that were unusually tinted?).
While Karsh claimed Ottawa, Cavouk set up shop in Toronto with his studio and large-windowed gallery in the landmark Colonnade on fashionable Bloor Street. Many times I had nearly pressed my nose against the huge glass display windows, to look at portraits of the Royal Family, Prime Ministers, corporate titans and the occasional celebrity. What fascinated me too, was the texture of the portraits, looking like oil paintings. This was because Cavouk was probably one of the first to employ the technique of using canvas on stretcher, to mount his colour film. It was truly amazing to behold the depth, vibrancy and texture.
So I was honoured to have a letter and exhibition opening invite in hand, to finally meet the inventive Cavouk and Cavoukian (in Armenian, "ian" added to the family name meant "son of"). Onnig Cavoukian and I became good friends. You should know that these Cavouks are highly-driven: sister Anne Cavoukian was Ontario's Privacy Commissioner, and brother Raffi is the world-reknown children's singer.
My father (a straight classical music lover) was visiting and both of us were invited to dinner at Cavoukian's. During the meal, upon learning that my (now retired) dad was returning home the next day, not far from where one of Onnig's clients was living. He asked my father if it would be an inconvenience to deliver a finished portrait of a client, rolled up on canvas ready for the stretcher and framing. Dad was happy to oblige.
He left for his nine-hour drive with the scrolled canvas portrait on the back seat of the car. After arriving home, he called the client to ascertain directions to his (rented) home and a mutually convenient time to make the delivery.
The agreed day arrived, and Dad drove the 45-minute distance to this chap's temporary digs. It was a spacious house directly on Long Island Sound. My father rang the bell, and was greeted by a round-faced, middle-aged man who ushered him into a study that had sheet music everywhere; on furniture and scattered on the carpet. The polite man graciously thanked my dad for the delivery, and apologized to him for not being able to speak with him at length; he was finishing a musical for a New York theatre. The two exchanged names back at the front door as they warmly shook hands, and Dad quickly left.
I was speaking to my father by telephone the next day, and asked how the portrait delivery went. He said it was fine, and that the thoughtful recipient expressed his regret several times for not being a better host, but that he was pressed for time in meeting his work deadline. He wondered out loud what kind of musician this person might be.
Then my dad asked me: "Who is Charles Aznavour?" I responded, "Why?" Father said that he was the man in the portrait, and the same man who briefly welcomed him into his home. "Dad! Aznavour is a legend; he could cause riots in France! He's an iconic, beloved singer-songwriter, actor, dancer, activist and diplomat world-wide; has written tons of standards, including 'Yesterday, When I Was Young,' 'She' and 'Dance, In The Old-Fashioned Way' plus thousands of others. He's collaborated with legendary entertainers from Edith Piaf to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Jack Jones recorded an entire album of his work called 'Write Me A Love Song, Charlie'."
Dad just said "Oh." Then added: "Who's Jack Jones?" Aznavourian (also Armenian), would have loved it.