Gordon Pinsent


Athough Sgt. Bob Fraser's career was cut short by a bullet, Gordon Pinsent's career is still going strong.

An icon in the Canadian entertainment industry, this Newfoundland-born actor and writer has participated in all manners of entertainment - including stage, radio, television and film. He left Newfoundland at the age of 17 and began his career on stage. He confessed that he lied to get his first role. He ended up in Winnipeg, where he found himself gravitating toward the Winnipeg Repertory Theatre. His previous experience was lacking - he'd had a job in commercial art, done some portraits and taught dancing at Arthur Murray's. He watched a play one night and when he remained behind, theatre owner Leena Lovegrove invited him to come by for a reading. When offered a small role (4 lines) of a doctor, Gordon declined, brashly declaring he'd only travel into town for a lead role. He was given the chance to read and he got that role, as well as that of Sebastian in Twelfth Night.

From that moment on, he acquired a great deal of experience in a short time, including the first live radio drama out of Winnipeg. He returned east, working in Toronto and Stratford. Radio, television and movies have taken his talents across Canada, as well into the United States (Hollywood and New York) and even Greece.

One of his secrets for success was never saying that he couldn't do anything. On his first TV series, The Last of the Mohicans he was asked if he could ride a horse. Not wishing to lose out on a job, he glibly responded, "Western or English?" However, his skills did not include riding horses, so consequently he fell off a lot, but he perservered.

His home of Newfoundland remains very close to his heart, and much of his writing includes settings and characters from that Canadian province. Many of his best performances are of his own doing, for he has written and acted in his own productions: the title role in The Rowdyman, for which he wrote the screenplay and musical version while living in L.A., as well as the later released novel. This was followed by the novel John and the Missus (1974), which was later adapted into a stageplay, where he played the leading role at the Neptune Theatre Premier in Halifax. He wrote the screenplay for this story, and received the Best Actor Award for his portrayal of the title character. He created and appeared in the CBC series A Gift to Last, for which he received an ACTRA Award in 1979.

Due South

Although he has been performing for decades, he made a new legion of fans with his appearance as Robert Fraser, the deceased father of Constable Benton Fraser in the TV series Due South. When he originally was contacted about the pilot movie, he knew it was just a voice role and was delighted. Pinsent said wryly, "You can phone them in, be obscenely paid, and just go do voice." However, when the the pilot movie became a series, creator Paul Haggis brought back the dead Robert Fraser - as a ghost who counsels his son - usually at the most inopportune moment. He reprised that role in each of the show's seasons.

Did he find playing a dead man to be a strange role? Not particularly. In his career he'd done a lot of roles. "Quite secretly and privately," he admits, "I felt great pleasure with the idea that they were doing this Due South series because oddly enough - perhaps not oddly enough but I mean if it were not for [the] internet and American sales and so on, this would have remained a Canadian series that would have gone down the tubes and that would have been it."

Recent Years

Gordon enjoyed himself immensely as the chronic liar, Hap Shauggnessy, on the Canadian comedy Red Green, which has achieved cult status in North America. Gordon became friends with series creator Steve Smith after he sent in a letter, and soon he was offered a role on the series. As the show needed a boost, Gordon did his appearance for scale (pay). He even provided his own costume, and every time he returns to the series as this perpetual storyteller, the tales get larger and wilder. "Not an easy man to play," says Pinsent with a smile.

He wrote a play for Newfoundland's amateur drama festival which was staged in St. John's, Newfoundland in April 1997. His play, Corner Green, was based in his home town of Grand Falls, a town of 15,000 in central Newfoundland.

That province figured prominently in his production of the CBC movie Win, Again!, the tale of a man accused of murder. On the run for 14 years, he returns to his family when he's vindicated. The reunion is tense, for he'd abandoned his family to flee the law, and his wife is nervous, his now adult son is angry. His actress daughter, Leah, even appeared in a role as the girlfriend of his estranged son.

Gordon was given his own well-deserved star on Canada's Walk of Fame on June 9, 2007.

This prolific entertainer continues to remain the public eye, appearing in lots of series, movies, and plays.

The Personal Side of Gordon

His full name is Gordon Edward Pinsent, and he is the son of the late Stephen Arthur and Flossie (Cooper) Pinsent. Born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland. He has two brothers, Harry and Haig, and three sisters: Nita, Hazel, and Lil. Served with the Royal Canadian Regiment from 1948-51. Received the Officer Order of Canada in 1980, received Companion in 1998. Educated at the Grand Falls Academy (Newfoundland); received an L.L.D. from the University P.E.I. in 1975, Honorary doctorates from Queen's University in 1988, Memorial University (year unknown) and the University of Prince Edward Island. He was a member of the Honorary Advisory Board for the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra. His favorite pastimes include painting, hiking, and swimming. Professional affiliations include ACTRA (Canada), SAG (U.S.), CAEA, DGC.

He wrote an autobiography in 1992 entitled, "By the Way."

Gordon's first marriage to Irene Reid lasted five years, but produced two children, Barry Kennedy (an author, actor, and comic) and Beverley. Barry appeared in the Due South episode "The Ladies Man." In 1962 Gordon married actress Charmion King. They were married for 44 years until Charmion's death on January 6, 2007. About his wife Gordon commented, "I hope you have as great a love as we've had, if not, go and find it." They had a daughter, Leah, who has followed in her father's footsteps and currently can be seen acting in a variety of television productions.

Gordon is active in charities, and hosted 14th Annual Kids First! Easter Seals Telethon on CBC. He participated in a unique photographic exhibit in which celebrities 'squashed' their faces up against glass and had their photos taken. The exhibit, 'In Your Face,' raised money in 1994 for the Hospital for Sick Children. Gordon also hosted the Cabot 500 celebrations in June 1998 in Newfoundland.

Due South Cast Information | William & Elyse's Due South Page