Former TV pop culture sensation “Super Hippy” reveals wacky collection in Thornhill mansion
Mitch Markowitz, co-creator of the Hamilton children’s TV show The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, has a cult following for playing Super Hippy on the show during its run in the early 1970s — one of the biggest success stories in Canadian TV pop culture history. Interestingly, Markowitz has been amassing pop culture, mostly from the ’60s, in his own home.
“It’s a healthy obsession,” his wife, Robin Bralow, now says, adding that he has a designer’s eye for unusual pieces. “On the surface, you can’t see how something works, but he transforms things.”
Their 7,500-square-foot, three-level home in Thornhill has a Beatles Hall of Fame; a wall in his office for a smoking pipe collection, featuring Orson Welles’ pipe in Citizen Kane; and a room with a vending machine collection (think cigars, Kleenex, beef jerky, Pez, even jokes — clean and dirty).
“I don’t acquire things just to put them away in a cardboard box,” says Markowitz.
Most exciting item for him: a New York delicatessen menu signed by James Brown. Most titillating item for him: Elizabeth Taylor’s silver gloves. “His memorabilia is very touching, says his wife, who is also the CEO of Lymphoma Canada. “But it’s not the kind of house where you can’t touch anything.”
He has a lower-level foyer, which he named the Markowitz Hollywood North Museum, in 2009. “I just thought it was a nice, formal way to display my collection. I like to share it with guests and friends.”
“Mitch is not doing it to be a showy person,” says his close friend of seven years, Jerry Levitan, who, at 14, interviewed John Lennon. “He collects items in a theme that touches his life or others.”
On display: Judy Garland’s slingbacks, Mae West’s navy blue dress, Johnny Carson’s sports jacket, Marilyn Monroe’s cashmere cardigan and Dick Clark’s sweater from American Bandstand.
“It’s not often that we can put ourselves in a time machine and do it all over again,” Markowitz says. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find a vending machine that dispenses naughty jokes today.
L–R: Mitch Markowitz outside his Thornhill home; his smoking pipe collection; hand-carved wooden jackets