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Jackie Burroughs

Director, Screenwriter, Actor
(b. February 2, 1939 Lancashire, England - d. September 22, 2010 Toronto, Ontario)

A leading figure in Canadian theatre, Jackie Burroughs made her mark on stage and screen and won virtually every acting award available in Canada. The dynamic Burroughs – Jackie B. to her friends – had a well-earned reputation as a visionary, a bohemian, an eccentric and an adventurer. Intense, flamboyant and unpredictable, she had an enviable range that extended from Shakespeare to the avant-garde, though she was perhaps most recognized for her roles as outsiders and eccentrics. Her career ran an onscreen gamut from the multi-Gemini-winning role of the grouchy but lovable Hetty King in the long-running TV series “Road to Avonlea” to the drug-addled tourist “taking a vacation from feminism” in A Winter Tan (1988).

Born in Lancashire, England, Burroughs moved with her family to Niagara-On-The-Lake when she was twelve and was enrolled in Branksome Hall, a private girls’ school in Toronto. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1962, she made her stage debut in a production of N.F. Simpson’s A Resounding Tinkle at the University of Toronto's Hart House Theatre. She continued to act in summer theatre, which soon led to work in an avant-garde cabaret and with Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In 1963, her neighbour, director René Bonniére, cast her in her first television series, “Twelve and a Half Cents.” She performed with most of the major theatre companies in Canada including the Shaw Festival and the National Arts Centre, and was at Stratford during the heyday of artistic director Robin Phillips. She co-starred with Peter O’Toole in several productions, including Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, appeared in countless plays and studied in New York City with famed acting coach Uta Hagen.

Burroughs was a key figure during English Canadian cinema’s early, developmental period in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She contributed memorable, challenging performances in such films as Don Owen’s Notes for a Film About Donna & Gail (1966) and The Ernie Game (1967), Morley Markson’s Monkeys in the Attic A Film of Exploding Dreams (1974), Patrick Loubert’s 125 Rooms of Comfort (1974) and Mort Ransen’s Running Time (1974). Though the success of these films varied, Burroughs’s work was consistently engaging and often one of the most noteworthy elements.

In the early 1980s, she won back-to-back best supporting actress Genies for her supporting performances in Phillip Borsos' The Grey Fox (1982) and Robin Phillips' The Wars (1983). She also played Amelia Evans in the hugely popular CBC-TV mini-series “Anne of Greene Gables” (1985). She then spent six years developing A Winter Tan, based on the letters of Maryse Holder, about a middle-aged feminist's hedonistic, alcohol-soaked sexual odyssey through Mexico. Burroughs produced, wrote, directed and starred in the film, for which she won a Best Leading Actor Genie. Other notable film credits include: David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone (1983), Gordon Pinsent’s John and the Missus (1987), Guy Maddin’s Careful (1992), Don McKellar’s Last Night (1998), Léa Pool’s Lost and Delirious (2001) and Aaron Woodley’s Rhinoceros Eyes (2003).

Burroughs won two Canadian Film Awards, five Geminis and three Genies, and in 2001 she received the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Earle Grey Award for outstanding contribution to Canadian cinema. Her career was notable not only for the quality of her work, but for her enthusiasm for a wide variety of projects ranging from the smallest independent films (which she took on both early and late in her career) to larger budget work. Her final performance was an indelible cameo in Ed Gass-Donnelly’s independent drama Small Town Murder Songs (2010).

Burroughs spent the last decade of her life dividing her time between Toronto and Oaxaca, Mexico. She passed away on September 22, 2010, and is survived by a daughter from her marriage to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Zal Yanovsky.

Film and video work includes

Notes for a Film About Donna and Gail, 1966 (actor)
The Purse, 1966 (actor)
Wojeck series, 1966 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Ernie Game, 1967 (actor)
Dulcima, 1969 (actor; TV)
Black Phoenix, 1970 (actor; TV)
The Psychiatrist series, 1970 (actor; TV, one episode)
Twelve and a Half Cents, 1970 (actor; TV)
Who Only Stand and Wait, 1970 (actor; TV)
Eat Anything, 1971 (actor)
The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour series, 1971 (actor; TV)
A Small Remedy, 1971 (actor: TV)
Conflict Comedy, 1972 (actor)
Norman Corwin Presents series, 1972 (actor; TV, one episode)
A Fan’s Notes, 1972 (actor)
Vicky, 1973 (actor)
125 Rooms of Comfort, 1974 (actor)
Angel of the Night, 1974 (actor; TV)
Monkeys in the Attic A Film of Exploding Dreams, 1974 (actor)
My Pleasure is My Business, 1974 (actor)
Rameau’s Nephew By Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) By Wilma Schoen, 1974 (actor)
Running Time, 1974 (actor)
Teleplay series, 1976 (actor; TV, one episode)
Here to Stay series, 1976 (actor; TV, one episode)
Gertrude and Alice in Passing, 1978 (actor)
Out of Our Father’s House, 1978 (actor; TV)
Voices of Early Canada series, 1978 (actor; TV, one episode)
Great Performances series, 1978 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Intruder, 1979 (actor)
The Kidnapping of the President, 1980 (actor)
Chairman of the Board, 1980 (actor; TV)
Heavy Metal, 1981 (voice)
The Grey Fox, 1982 (actor)
The Dead Zone, 1983 (actor)  
Out of the Shadows, 1983 (actor; TV)
The Wars, 1983 (actor)
Gentle Sinners, 1983 (actor; TV)
Chautauqua Girl, 1984 (actor; TV)
Neon, An Electric Memoir, 1984 (actor)
Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, 1984 (actor; TV)
The Surrogate, 1984 (actor)
All the Years, 1985 (actor; TV)
Anne of Green Gables, 1985 (actor; TV)
The Care Bears Movie, 1985 (voice)
Evergreen mini-series, 1985 (actor; TV)
Ewoks series, 1985 (voice; TV, three episodes)
Generation on Hold, 1985 (narrator; TV)
Seduced, 1985 (actor; TV)
The Undergrads, 1985 (actor)
2 Speak, 1986 (actor)
A Judgment in Stone, 1986 (actor)
John and the Missus, 1987 (actor)
A Winter Tan, 1987 (co-director with Louise Clark, Aerlyn Weissman, John Frizzell et al.; writer; actor)
I Vant to Be Alone, 1988 (actor)
Inside/Out, 1988 (actor)
Mold Grows on Baby, 1988 (actor)
Taking Care of Terrific, 1988 (actor; TV)
Carnival of Shadows, 1989 (actor)
Final Notice, 1989 (actor; TV)
The Twilight Zone series, 1989 (actor; TV, one episode)
Food of the Gods II, 1989 (actor)
The Midday Sun, 1989 (actor)
The Top of His Head, 1989 (actor)
Whispers, 1989 (actor)
Road to Avonlea series, 1990-1996 (actor; TV, 90 episodes)
Distress Signals, 1991 (narrator; TV)
Elizabeth Smart: On the Side of Angels, 1991 (actor)
Careful, 1992 (actor)
Night Owl, 1993 (actor; TV)
Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years series, 1995 (actor; TV, one episode)
How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly, 1995 (narrator)
Life & Times series, The Long Road to Fame, 1996 (narrator; TV)
Bleeders, 1997 (actor)
Due South series, 1997 (actor; TV, one episode)
Elvis Meets Nixon, 1997 (actor; TV)
Platinum, 1997 (actor)
O Canada series, 1997 (voice; TV)
Heritage Minute series, 1998 (actor; TV, one episode)
Evidence of Blood, 1998 (actor; TV)
An Avonlea Christmas, 1998 (actor; TV)
Last Night, 1998 (actor)
More Tales of the City mini-series, 1998 (actor; TV, four episodes)
Angela Anaconda series, 1999-2003 (voice; TV)
Cover Me, 1999 (actor; TV)
Have Mercy, 1999 (actor; TV)
Washed Up, 2000 (actor; TV)
Further Tales of the City mini-series, 2001 (actor; TV, three episodes)  
Lost and Delirious, 2001 (actor)
On Their Knees, 2001 (actor)
Smallville series, 2001 (actor; TV, one episode)
Night’s Noontime, 2002 (actor)
A Guy Thing, 2003 (actor)
Dead Like Me series, 2003 (actor; TV, one episode)
Just Cause series, 2003 (actor; TV, one episode)
Made in Canada series, 2003 (actor; TV, one episode)
Mystery Ink series, 2003 (actor; TV)
The Pilot’s Wife, 2003 (actor; TV)
The Republic of Love, 2003 (actor)
Rhinoceros Eyes, 2003 (actor)
Willard, 2003 (actor)
Cavedweller, 2004 (actor)
Going the Distance, 2004 (actor)
The Limb Salesman, 2004 (actor)
Snow, 2004 (actor; TV)
The Eleventh Hour series, 2004 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Winning Season, 2004 (actor; TV)
Bailey’s Billion$, 2005 (actor)
Fever Pitch, 2005 (actor)
King’s Ransom, 2005 (actor)
Walter Ego series, 2005 (actor; TV)
Slings and Arrows series, 2005 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Leo, 2005 (actor)
Martha Behind Bars, 2005 (actor; TV)
The Sentinel series, 2006 (actor; TV)
First Snow, 2006 (actor)
Deck the Halls, 2006 (actor)
Skip Tracer, 2006 (actor; TV)
Into the Labyrinth, 2008 (actor)
Sophie series, 2009 (actor; TV, one episode)
Higgelty Pigglety Pop! or There Must be More to Life, 2010 (actor)
Small Town Murder Songs, 2010 (actor)

By: Andrew McIntosh
Additional notes by Steve Gravestock