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 nearly 30 years, he has served as the voice of Babar the elephant in television and film.

Order of Canada order

The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order and the second highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada. It comes second only to membership in the Order of Merit, which is the personal gift of Canada's monarch.

Royal Society of Canada academy in Canada

The Royal Society of Canada, also known as the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada, is the senior national, bilingual council of distinguished Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists. The primary objective of the RSC is to promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the sciences. The RSC is Canada’s National Academy and exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both official languages, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.

<i>Away from Her</i> 2006 film by Sarah Polley

Away from Her is a 2007 Canadian independent drama film written and directed by Sarah Polley and starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent in leading roles. Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson, and Kristen Thomson are featured in supporting roles. The feature film directorial debut of Polley, it is based on Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain", from the 2001 collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.


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.[ citation needed ]

Grand Falls-Windsor City in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Grand Falls-Windsor is a town located in the central region of the island of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, with a population of 14,171 at the 2016 census. The town is the largest in the central region, the fifth largest in the province, and is home to the annual Exploits Valley Salmon Festival. Grand Falls-Windsor was incorporated in 1991 when the two former towns of Grand Falls and Windsor amalgamated.

Dominion of Newfoundland UK possession in North America between 1907 and 1949

Newfoundland was a British dominion from 1907 to 1934 when it surrendered dominion status by ending self-government in exchange for British Royal Commission rule as a crown colony. Newfoundland remained a crown colony until Newfoundland joined Canada as a province. The dominion, situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast, comprised the island of Newfoundland as well as Labrador on the continental mainland. Before attaining dominion status, Newfoundland was a British colony, self-governing from 1855.

Newfoundland and Labrador Province of Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it is composed of the insular region of Newfoundland and the continental region of Labrador to the northwest, with a combined area of 405,212 square kilometres (156,500 sq mi). In 2018, the province's population was estimated at 525,073. About 92% of the province's population lives on the island of Newfoundland, of whom more than half live on the Avalon Peninsula.

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.[ citation needed ]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, branded as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian federal Crown corporation that serves as the national public broadcaster for both radio and television. The English- and French-language service units of the corporation are commonly known as CBC and Radio-Canada.

Canadian Army land component of the Canadian Armed Forces

The Canadian Army is the command responsible for the operational readiness of the conventional ground forces of the Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2018 the Army has 23,000 regular soldiers, about 17,000 reserve soldiers, including 5,000 rangers, for a total of 40,000 soldiers. The Army is supported by 3,000 civilian employees. It maintains regular forces units at bases across Canada, and is also responsible for the Army Reserve, the largest component of the Primary Reserve. The Commander of the Canadian Army and Chief of the Army Staff is Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier.

The Royal Canadian Regiment

The Royal Canadian Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. The regiment consists of four battalions, three in the Regular Force and one in the primary reserve. The RCR is ranked 9th in the order of precedence amongst Canadian Army regiments, but is the most senior infantry regiment that has regular force battalions.


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. [5]

Winnipeg Provincial capital city in Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. Centred on the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, it is near the longitudinal centre of North America, approximately 110 kilometres (70 mi) north of the Canada–United States border.

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC) is Canada's oldest English-language regional theatre. Next to the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, MTC has a higher annual attendance than any other theatre in the country. It was founded in 1958 by John Hirsch and Tom Hendry as an amalgamation of the Winnipeg Little Theatre and Theatre 77. In 2010, the theatre received a royal designation from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and officially became the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

John Stephen Hirsch, OC was a Hungarian-Canadian theater director. He was born in Siófok, Hungary to József and Ilona Hirsch, both of whom perished in the Holocaust along with his younger brother István. Hirsch survived after spending most of the Second World War years in Budapest, and came to Canada in 1947 through the War Orphans Project of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Arriving in Winnipeg, Hirsch was taken into the home of Alex (Sasha) and Pauline Shack. He remained close to the Shacks for the rest of his life, and although he lived in New York City and Toronto, maintained strong ties with the city of Winnipeg.

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.

Scarlett Hill was a Canadian soap opera in October 1962. This was the first daytime soap opera produced for Canadian television, although it was based upon an American radio drama created by Robert and Kathleen Lindsay.

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.

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.

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 .

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.

Who Has Seen the Wind is a 1977 Canadian drama film directed by Allan King and written by Patricia Watson. The film is an adaptation of W. O. Mitchell's influential novel Who Has Seen the Wind. It was the first narrative feature film ever directed by King, who was previously known primarily as a documentary filmmaker.

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.

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. [6] 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" [7] fundraising campaign for The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum. [8]

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. [9]

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. [10] The film also won awards at the Toronto Student Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013. [11]

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.[ citation needed ]


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.[ citation needed ]

He has written seven screenplays, including: The Rowdyman and John and the Missus.[ citation needed ]

His plays include Easy Down Easy (1987) and Brass Rubbings (1989).[ citation needed ]

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. [12]

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 honor.

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. [13]

His acting and writing awards include: [14]



Television series

Television specials and movies


Related Research Articles

Mark Critch Canadian comedian

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.

The Genie Awards were given out annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television to recognize the best of Canadian cinema from 1980–2012. They succeeded the Canadian Film Awards.

Gemini Awards 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.

Wendy Crewson Canadian actress

Wendy Jane Crewson is a Canadian actress and producer. She began her career appearing on Canadian television, before her breakthrough role in 1991 dramatic film The Doctor.

Eric Neal Peterson is a Canadian stage, television, and film actor, known for his roles in three major Canadian series – Street Legal (1987-1994), Corner Gas (2004-2009), and This is Wonderland (2004-2006), as well as Corner Gas Animated (2018–present).

Peter Outerbridge Canadian actor

Peter Outerbridge is a Canadian actor, best known for his role as Ari Tasarov in the CW action series Nikita, Dr. David Sandström in the TMN series ReGenesis, Henrik "Hank" Johanssen in Orphan Black, Bob Corbett in Bomb Girls, William Easton in Saw VI and George Brown in the television film John A.: Birth of a Country. He also played the lead role of Detective William Murdoch in a three-episode mini-series, The Murdoch Mysteries, in its initial run on Canadian television, with two episodes shown in 2004 and a third in 2005.

Nicholas Campbell Canadian actor and filmmaker

Nicholas Campbell is a Canadian actor and filmmaker, who won three Gemini Awards for acting. He is known for such films as Naked Lunch, Prozac Nation, New Waterford Girl and the television series Da Vinci's Inquest.

Peter MacNeill Canadian actor

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

Ray Bellew was a Canadian actor and performer.

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.

Luke Kirby Canadian actor

Luke Farrell Kirby is a Canadian actor.

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

Babar is a Canadian/French animated 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.

Kristopher Turner Canadian actor

Kristopher Turner is a Canadian actor. He is best known for his role as Dr. Gavin Murphy on the medical drama series Saving Hope, and as Jamie Andrews on the CTV teen drama Instant Star.

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

Allan Hawco actor

Allan Hawco (born July 28, 1977) is a Canadian actor and producer, best known for his roles in the series ZOS: Zone of Separation, Republic of Doyle and The Book of Negroes, and the television films H2O and The Trojan Horse.

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.


  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. DEFELICE, JAMES. "Gordon Pinsent".
  6. Royal Society of Canada (RSC) Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
  7. The RCR Museum Capital Campaign
  8. The RCR Museum
  9. "CBC.ca | The Late Show | About the Show". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  10. "St. John's director wins Short Film Face Off". CBC News. September 7, 2013.
  11. "Stephen Dunn: Life Doesn't Frighten Me". Ion Magazine. July 17, 2013.
  12. "Governor General's Performing Arts Awards - Recipients". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  13. "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  14. "Gordon Pinsent".
  15. Wilner, Norman (12 June 2009). "Spine-tingling short". Now . Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  16. "Gordon Pinsent". musicbrainz.org. Musicbrainz Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2015.