Happy birthday, Porky!

David
David Newell
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Grand Falls-Windsor's favourite son turns 80

Gordon Pinsent does not feel like an octogenarian, but he earned that title Monday. The boy from 9 Fourth Avenue, Grand Falls, who was the youngest of six children born to Stephen and Flossie 80 years ago said he doesn't feel his age. Perhaps, he said, it is because he keeps so busy that he stays young.

"I always have plenty on the calendar to take care of me for a while. In this business you don't retire, because there is nothing to retire from. It is all enjoyable. It is all a part of life. I made the right choice as far as my own talents are concerned, I suppose."

Actor and playwright Gordon Pinsent turns 80 years old today. While many octogenarians would slow down, he continues to add to an already impressive body of work at a breakneck pace. Telegram file photo

Gordon Pinsent does not feel like an octogenarian, but he earned that title Monday. The boy from 9 Fourth Avenue, Grand Falls, who was the youngest of six children born to Stephen and Flossie 80 years ago said he doesn't feel his age. Perhaps, he said, it is because he keeps so busy that he stays young.

"I always have plenty on the calendar to take care of me for a while. In this business you don't retire, because there is nothing to retire from. It is all enjoyable. It is all a part of life. I made the right choice as far as my own talents are concerned, I suppose."

Pinsent joked that he tried manual labour, but it wasn't for him.

"I am into the arts and I love it," he said. "It is a good field with marvelous people and a great history of enjoyment and achievement, to some degree. I don't know what I would've done had it not worked out. I figured if I kept running fast enough then no one would stop me, you know?"

But after more then six decades on the stage, screen and radio, it would seem there is not much Pinsent hasn't achieved.

He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. The roles portrayed by Pinsent could fill pages, and movies such as "John and the Missus," "The Rowdyman," "The Shipping News" and "Away From Her" are part of his extensive resume.

Television shows such as "Quentin Durgens, M.P.," "A Gift to Last," "Due South," "The Red Green Show" and "Republic of Doyle" have also kept him busy.

He said every new role he enters into or new play or screenplay he begins still excites him.

"I love (new projects)," Pinsent said. "That is the beauty of it, no matter what your age, the best ideas can come tomorrow. It is fabulous and it is exciting. I can sit at the computer and be more excited than being at a Leafs game. Well, more excited now, because the Leafs are not doing all that well."

While he has lived in Toronto for many years, he still remains connected to Newfoundland.

Working vacation

In addition to visiting family in Grand Falls-Windsor and St. John's in recent days, Pinsent will be attending the world premiere of a play that he wrote while working in Budapest and Vienna last year.

The play, entitled "Easy, Down Easy," will be performed at the Grand Bank Regional Theatre Festival.

"I was over there for two months taking part in an eight-part mini series called 'Pillars of the Earth,' (an adaptation of) Ken Follett's book. I sent it to Bernadine Stapleton in St. John's and (it opened) on July 9. They are doing it in Grand Bank, in a very small theatre there. I'll see how it looks - I am going out there. That will be a good test of it."

The play will be performed at LSPU Hall in St. John's this fall.

And while most people celebrating their 80th birthday might take it easy on their special day, Pinsent will be doing what he likes best: acting.

He is on the streets of the capital city, reprising his role in CBC's popular series, "Republic of Doyle."

When contacted, Pinsent joked he "has a very strict belief" in forgetting his birthday.

Age, he said, is not a big factor in the acting business.

"Age is not much of a problem, certainly for character-driven actors," he said. "Actresses have a little more difficulty during the middle years and then, they too go to a period of relaxing and doing what they want to do."

As for a present on the big day, his wish was simple.

"I don't want to feel any different from the day before to the day after, that would be a good present," he said.

Pinsent said that even though it has been a long time he since lived in central Newfoundland, it is still home.

"It has been a long time since I climbed the rocks down by the cove in Grand Falls, boy-oh-boy. And Grand Falls looks wonderful now. I mean, from the early days, with extensions going on. I saw the streets there and the extensions. And it is happening through some magic, because of the (loss of the) mill."

Pinsent was in town last week to visit his brother, Harry, who still lives on the same piece of land where the family homestead was 80 years ago. It is also where Gordon, who said it is only recently that he has gained back some of the weight that earned him the nickname "Porky" when his age was in single digits, feels most at home.

"I sit there and imagine myself running up to school - or away from it."

Organizations: Royal Society of Canada, Shipping News, Grand Bank Regional Theatre CBC

Geographic location: Grand Falls, 9 Fourth Avenue, Newfoundland Canada St. John's Toronto Grand Falls-Windsor Budapest Vienna Grand Bank

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  • SueNL
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    I've had the great pleasure of being in Mr. Pinsent's company on a few occasions. He's a true gentleman that has a way of making those in his company feel special. Happy Birthday Gordon Pinsent - you are a gem of an individual!

  • Heather
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I remember when The Rowdy Man was released. Newfoundlanders were so proud of Mr. Pinsent - we had our own real movie star! Happy Birthday!

  • G
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Happy 80th birthday Mr. Pinsent! All the best, and keep on acting, you're a great actor, love all your work!!!!!! Have a great birthday!!!