I Thought He Was Dead
September 28, 2021
289 pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-33-6
When Ralph Benmergui discovered he was literally hours away from a deadly heart attack he realized his life had changed. He was entering the autumn of his life, as he saw it, and he was being dragged into it by his heels. What follows this awakening is a funny, profound and generous look at where he has come from – from his childhood as the youngest son of Moroccan immigrants, to his experiences during the early years of YukYuks, to his long and storied career at CBC, along with much more – to where he is now, with stents in his arteries, having survived two bouts of cancer, hosting a much-loved podcast and a with practice in Hashpa’ah, Jewish Spiritual Direction. Along the way Benmergui looks critically at what it means to grow old in our society and challenges the reader to push against the stereotypes, to find a new purpose, and to claim the title and role of elder in a society that demands we strive to stay “forever young.”
“A compelling mixture of memoir, reflection and philosophy, this is a startlingly honest and important book.” – Rev. Michael Coren, columnist and bestselling author
“Ralph Benmergui’s book is a gift to all of us who, like him, are in the ‘autumn of our lives’ and to anyone who is planning to someday get there. He writes with the timing of a performer, the compassion of a loving friend and the wisdom of a different kind of rabbi. Ralph asks how we can bring our wisdom to the table – this book is, in part, his personal answer to that question.” – Kathleen Wynne, former premier of Ontario
“Ralph Benmergui was one of the most talented people I’d ever seen walk into the Toronto studios of the CBC. And he knew it. It wasn’t long before he wanted both he and his show to ‘own’ the town. This is the story of how he almost did, what happened when he didn’t and what’s happened to his remarkable life since. It’s not a simple story and along the way, there are lessons for all of us.” – Peter Mansbridge
“Ralph Benmergui’s I Thought He Was Dead is a deeply moving work. Its raw vulnerability and masterful storytelling combine to make the book a celebration of life, faith, hope and love.” – Joan Jenkinson, executive director, Black Screen Office
“From stand-up to TV host to cancer patient and ultimately spiritual companion, through every star-making, humiliating stop along the way, Ralph Benmergui’s memoir is a raw, entertaining and enlightening read that is deeply funny, touching and inspirational.” – Erin Davis, broadcaster and bestselling author of Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy
Word on the Street Guest Authors Ralph Benmergui, Emily Brewes, & Hollay Ghadery on Ontario as Inspiration, Virtual Events & More (Open Book, 13/09/2021)
Ralph talks to Open Book about his forthcoming memoir I Thought He Was Dead.
About the Author
Ralph Benmergui is best known as a TV and radio personality. First at the CBC for over twenty years and then at Jazz FM with his morning show Benmergui in the Morning. Born in Tangiers, Morocco, Ralph and his family arrived in Canada in the late fifties settling in Toronto. Ralph has had an eclectic career. Stand-up comic, singer in a band, national media, then government communications. Executive Advisor to the President at Sheridan College and along the way seeking out and becoming becoming an ordained Spiritual Director.