A forty-year veteran of theatre, film, television and radio as an actor, playwright, author and director, Gordon Pinsent is well known to audiences across Canada and the United States. From his many starring roles in a wide variety of television programs and feature films, we remember the recognizable characters Pinsent has created in popular Canadian culture: the title role of Quentin Durgens MP, the stuffed-shirt Member of Parliament; Will Cole in The Rowdyman, a sort of Tom Jones let loose in Newfoundland; John in John and the Missus; Edgar Sturgess, the scarlet-coated militiaman in the TV series A Gift to Last, written by Pinsent; Swiftwater, the cardshark in Klondike Fever; Sgt. Fraser Senior in Due South; and his GEMINI Award winning performance as Duff in Power Play.
Clearly, Pinsent successfully balances acting and writing. His novels, The Rowdyman and John and the Missus were both turned into feature films, with Pinsent directing the latter. The Rowdyman was made into a musical and presented at the Charlottetown Festival in 1976. He has co-starred with his wife, Charmion King, in two of his plays: Easy Down Easy and Brass Rubbings, and in Love Letters. Pinsent wrote and starred in the CBC Movie of the Week Win Again, in which he won a GEMINI for his writing. His memoirs, By the Way, were published in 1994. Born in Newfoundland, Pinsent began his career at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, which led to roles at the Stratford Festival. This was followed by the role of Prospero in The Tempest at the Vancouver Playhouse, and the leading role of Cyrano at the Stevenville Festival. He returned to the Stratford Festival to star in Trumpets and Drums.
In the U.S., Pinsent starred as the President of the United States in the cult movie Colossus: The Forbin Project, and appeared in such TV series and movies as It Takes A Thief, Silence of the North, Young Prosecutors, Banacek, and the feature film The Thomas Crown Affair, among others. Gordon Pinsent has received two ACTRA Awards for his television work; three GENIE Awards for achievements in Canadian film; five GEMINI Awards, a DORA Award for the stage, as well as honourary doctorates at Queens, P.E.I. University and Memorial University, Newfoundland. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979, and promoted to Companion within the Order in 1998. Pinsent also played the long running character of Hap Shaughnessey on the Red Green Show, a supporting lead in the feature film The Shipping News and in Fallen Angel for CBS and Saint Ralph for Alliance Atlantis. He also wrote, directed and acted in the movie of the week Heyday, a period piece set during the end of World War II, in co-ordination with Triptych Media Inc./Pope Productions.
Pinsent began acting on stage in the 1940s at the age of 17. He soon took on roles in radio dramas 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.