Gordon Pinsent

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Gordon Pinsent

Gordon Pinsent TIFF08.jpg
Pinsent in 2008
Born (1930-07-12) July 12, 1930 (age 91)
  • Actor
  • writer
  • director
  • singer
Years active1957–present
(m. 1962; died 2007)
Children3; including Leah Pinsent

Gordon Edward Pinsent CC FRSC (born July 12, 1930) is a Canadian actor, writer, director, and singer. 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] He has been the voice of Babar the Elephant in television and film since 1989.

Early life[edit]

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 paper mill 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 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[edit]

Pinsent married actress Charmion King in 1962. They remained together until her death in 2007. Their daughter, Leah Pinsent, is also an actress.[18] Pinsent also has two children from a previous marriage.[19]


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.[20]

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.[21]

His acting and writing awards include:[22]



Television series[edit]

Television specials and movies[edit]



  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. ^ "Gordon Pinsent: A Canadian legend looks back at his life". 22 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Pinsent, Gordon Edward | History of Canadian Broadcasting".
  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. ^ Walz, Gene (27 October 2012). "Oct 2012: Pinsent better at looking forward than back in second memoir". Winnipeg Free Press.
  16. ^ "Gordon Pinsent".
  17. ^ "Iconic Newfoundland and Labrador actor Gordon Pinsent about to turn 90 | Saltwire".
  18. ^ Simonson, Robert (January 7, 2007). "Charmion King, Canadian Stage Actress, Dies at 81". Playbill.
  19. ^ Posner, Michael (December 6, 2012). "Gordon Pinsent reflects on a charmed life". The Globe and Mail.
  20. ^ "Governor General's Performing Arts Awards - Recipients". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  22. ^ "Gordon Pinsent".
  23. ^ Wilner, Norman (12 June 2009). "Spine-tingling short". Now. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  24. ^ "Gordon Pinsent". musicbrainz.org. Musicbrainz Foundation. Retrieved 14 February 2015.

External links[edit]