Gordon Pinsent

Last updated
Gordon Pinsent
Gordon Pinsent TIFF08.jpg
Pinsent in 2008
Born (1930-07-12) July 12, 1930 (age 89)
OccupationActor, director, screenwriter, playwright
Years active1957–present
Spouse(s) Charmion King (1962–2007, her death)

Gordon Edward Pinsent, CC, FRSC (born July 12, 1930) is a Canadian actor, screenwriter, director and playwright. He is known for his roles in numerous productions, including Away from Her , The Rowdyman , John and the Missus , A Gift to Last , Due South , The Red Green Show and Quentin Durgens, M.P. [1] Since 1989, for 30 years, he has served as the voice of Babar the elephant in television and film.


Early life

Pinsent, the youngest of six children, was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland (present-day Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada). His mother, Florence "Flossie" (née Cooper), was originally from Clifton, Newfoundland, [2] and his father, Stephen Arthur Pinsent, was a papermill worker and cobbler originally from Dildo, Newfoundland. [3] His mother was "quiet spoken" and a religious Anglican; the family was descended from immigrants from Kent and Devon in England. [4] He was a self-described "awkward child" who suffered from rickets.{ [5] }

Pinsent began acting on stage in the 1940s at the age of 17. He soon took on roles in radio drama on the CBC, and later moved into television and film as well. In the early 1950s, he took a break from acting and joined the Canadian Army, serving for approximately four years as a Private in The Royal Canadian Regiment.{ [6] }


Pinsent's professional acting career began in 1957 at Winnipeg's Theatre 77 (later known as the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre) under the direction of John Hirsch. In the years that followed, he performed in many theatrical productions in Winnipeg, Toronto and at the Stratford Festival. [7]

In the early 1960s he appeared in Scarlett Hill and The Forest Rangers . He has since become a staple of Canadian television with roles including the series Quentin Durgens, M.P. , A Gift to Last (which he created), The Red Green Show , Due South , Wind at My Back and Power Play . The pilot episode of A Gift to Last was adapted for the stage by Walter Learning and Alden Nowlan and has become a perennial Canadian Christmas favourite in regional theatres across the country.

Pinsent's movie roles include The Rowdyman , Who Has Seen the Wind , John and the Missus , The Shipping News and Away from Her . He wrote the screenplays for The Rowdyman and John and the Missus. Perhaps his best known early film role was that of the President of the United States in the 1970 science fiction cult classic Colossus: The Forbin Project . He starred in a role called Horse Latitudes based upon Donald Crowhurst, now featured in Deep Water .

In 1979 he was made an officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1998. In 2006, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. [8] On March 6, 2007, it was announced that Pinsent would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

On March 8, 2007, it was publicly announced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that Pinsent had accepted the appointment of honorary chairman of the "Building for the Future" [9] fundraising campaign for The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. [10]

During the 2008, 2010 and 2011 summer periods of CBC Radio One, Pinsent presented a radio documentary series called The Late Show featuring extended obituaries of notable Canadians whom the producers believed deserved attention. [11]

Pinsent appeared in one of Canadian director Stephen Dunn's early short films titled Life Doesn't Frighten Me, which won various awards, including the CBC Short Film Face-Off, with a cash prize of $30,000. [12] The film also won awards at the Toronto Student Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013. [13]

Most recently he had a guest starring role as Maurice Becker on the February 3, 2010 episode of Canadian television series Republic of Doyle . He was also a featured guest reader on Bookaboo.

He attained recent notoriety when a comedic segment of him reading dramatically from Justin Bieber's autobiography on This Hour Has 22 Minutes went viral on October 20, 2010.{ [14] }


His first memoir, By the Way, was published in 1992 by Stoddart Publishing. His second, Next (with George Anthony), was published in 2012 by McClelland and Stewart.{ [15] }

He has written seven screenplays, including: The Rowdyman and John and the Missus.{ [16] }

His plays include Easy Down Easy (1987) and Brass Rubbings (1989).{ [17] }

Personal life

Pinsent with daughter Leah and director Norman Jewison (2013) Gordon and Leah Pinsent pose with Norman Jewison at his annual Canadian Film Centre BBQ 2013 -a.jpg
Pinsent with daughter Leah and director Norman Jewison (2013)

Pinsent married actress Charmion King in 1962, and they were married until her death on January 6, 2007 from emphysema; their daughter, Leah Pinsent, is an actress. Pinsent also has two children, Barry and Beverly Kennedy, from an earlier marriage to Irene Reid.


Pinsent is a Companion of The Order of Canada and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada.

In 1997, he won the Earle Grey Award for lifetime achievement in television.

Pinsent received an LL.D from the University of Prince Edward Island in 1975, and Honorary doctorates from Queen's University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Lakehead University (2008) and the University of Windsor (2012).

Pinsent received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2004, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts. [18]

It was on July 12, 2005, in his hometown of Grand Falls-Windsor, and in honour of his 75th birthday, that the Arts & Culture Centre was renamed The Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts. A street in his hometown (Pinsent Drive) is also named in his honour.

On September 25, 2008 at a "Newfoundland and Labrador Inspired Evening" at The Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, the Company Theatre presented Mr. Pinsent with the inaugural Gordon Pinsent Award of Excellence.

Pinsent received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. [19]

His acting and writing awards include: [20]



Television series

Television specials and movies


Related Research Articles

Greg Thomey is Canadian comedian, actor and playwright and a founding member of the long-running television program This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He has been a recipient of numerous Gemini Awards.

Mark Critch Canadian comedian, actor, and writer

Mark Critch is a Canadian comedian, actor, and writer. He is best known for his work on the comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, initially as a writer and then as a regular cast member beginning in 2013.

Gemini Awards Canadian television award

The Gemini Awards were awards given by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television to recognize the achievements of Canada's television industry. The Gemini Awards are analogous to the Emmy Awards given in the United States and the BAFTA Television Awards in the United Kingdom. First held in 1986 to replace the ACTRA Award, the ceremony celebrated Canadian television productions with awards in 87 categories, along with other special awards such as lifetime achievement awards.

Quentin Durgens, M.P. is a Canadian dramatic television series, which aired on CBC Television from 1965 to 1969. It was one of the first hour-long drama series produced by the CBC, and helped to establish Gordon Pinsent as a major star in Canada. Created by George Robertson, the series first aired in 1965 under the title Mr. Member of Parliament, as a short-run series within the CBC's drama anthology The Serial. It was spun off into a standalone series and retitled Quentin Durgens, M.P. in its second season.

The Earle Grey Award is the lifetime achievement award for television acting of the Canadian Screen Awards, and its predecessor the Gemini Awards. The award is named for the first president of ACTRA's Toronto branch. It can be presented to an individual or collaborative team.

William Leonard Sean McCann was a Canadian actor and was in the business for over 55 years.

The Forest Rangers was a Canadian television series that ran from 1963 to 1965. It was a co-production between CBC Television and ITC Entertainment and was Canada's first television show produced in colour. Executive producer Maxine Samuels founded the show.

Peter MacNeill Canadian actor

Peter MacNeill is a Canadian film and television actor and voice-over artist who has starred in numerous television series and films.

Ray Bellew was a Canadian actor and performer.

Peter James Edward Oldring is a Canadian voice actor, improviser, actor and comedian.

Joanne Kelly actress

Joanne M. Kelly is a Canadian actress, known for her appearances in films such as Going the Distance, and in the TV series Warehouse 13 as the character Myka Bering, a Secret Service agent.

<i>Babar</i> (TV series) TV series

Babar is a Canadian/French animated fantasy television series produced in Canada by Nelvana Limited and The Clifford Ross Company. It premiered in 1989 on CBC and HBO, and subsequently was rerun on Qubo since 2006. The series is based on Jean de Brunhoff's original Babar books, and was Nelvana's first international co-production. The series' 78 episodes have been broadcast in 30 languages in over 150 countries.

Michael Wade was a Canadian actor, writer and musician. Born in Avondale, Newfoundland, he founded Newfoundland's first Shakespeare company in 1984.

John and the Missus is a 1986 Canadian drama film. The film was directed by and starred Gordon Pinsent who wrote the screenplay from his 1974 novel of the same name.

The Rowdyman is a 1972 comedy film with moralistic overtones, set in Newfoundland. It was written by and starred native Newfoundlander Gordon Pinsent. The film was a commercial hit and Pinsent won the Canadian Film Award for Best Leading Actor.

Allan Hawco actor

Allan Hawco is a Canadian writer, actor and producer, best known for his roles in the series Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, Republic of Doyle and The Book of Negroes, and the television limited series Caught.

Stephen Dunn (director) Canadian director, screenwriter producer and web series creator

Stephen Dunn is a Canadian director, screenwriter, producer, and web series creator. He made his feature film directorial debut in 2015 with Closet Monster, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Robert Bockstael (actor) Canadian actor

Robert Bockstael is a Canadian actor.

Michelle St. John is a Canadian actress, singer, producer and director who has been involved in creative projects in theatre, film, television and music since the 1980s. Her directorial debut, Colonization Road, is a 2016 feature-length documentary that premiered at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.

Eric House was a Canadian actor. Although he appeared in film, television and stage roles throughout his career, he was most famously associated with stage roles at the Stratford Festival, particularly its productions of musical comedies by Gilbert and Sullivan, and as Dean Drone in Sunshine Sketches, the first Canadian television drama series.


  1. "Gordon Pinsent: a Canadian legend looks back at his life". thestar.com. 22 December 2012.
  2. http://ngb.chebucto.org/ Marriage Records
  3. Gordon Pinsent is Hap Shaughnessy Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Literary Encyclopedia - Gordon Pinsent". litencyc.com.
  5. https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2012/12/22/gordon_pinsent_a_canadian_legend_looks_back_at_his_life.html
  6. https://www.broadcasting-history.ca/personalities/pinsent-gordon-edward
  7. DEFELICE, JAMES. "Gordon Pinsent".
  8. Royal Society of Canada (RSC) Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
  9. The RCR Museum Capital Campaign
  10. The RCR Museum
  11. "CBC.ca | The Late Show | About the Show". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  12. "St. John's director wins Short Film Face Off". CBC News. September 7, 2013.
  13. "Stephen Dunn: Life Doesn't Frighten Me". Ion Magazine. July 17, 2013.
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih-2O_gdYZo
  15. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/pinsent-better-at-looking-forward-than-back-in-second-memoir-176075011.html
  16. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0684521/#writer
  17. https://www.thetelegram.com/lifestyles/local-lifestyles/iconic-newfoundland-and-labrador-actor-gordon-pinsent-about-to-turn-90-471651/
  18. "Governor General's Performing Arts Awards - Recipients". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  19. "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  20. "Gordon Pinsent".
  21. Wilner, Norman (12 June 2009). "Spine-tingling short". Now . Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  22. "Gordon Pinsent". musicbrainz.org. Musicbrainz Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2015.