Actor Gordon Pinsent died at the age of 92 yesterday, February 25. He was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, the youngest of Stephen and Flossie (Cooper) Pinsent’s six children.
Like most Canadians, I’ve seen lots of his movies and television shows, and seen interviews with him. He struck me as a nice man. Likely, I thought, as nice in real life as he was with those interviewers.
And then I got a chance to find out for myself. He was in St. John’s and I thought maybe I could talk to him about research I was doing on Canadian television. I went to where he was working and asked if he’d have some free time to talk. “I’ve finished up for today, so how about now?” he said.
I wasn’t expecting that, but said ok, let’s go. Go where, I wondered, as we got in my car. I needed my tape recorder, which was at home, and somewhere quiet. So home it was.
After we were settled in at the kitchen table, I realized the hum of the refrigerator was going to be audible on the tape. We can unplug it, he said. I went over and tried to pull the fridge out to get at the plug. Couldn’t move it, so he gets up to help.
Uh-oh. What was behind there? Dust bunnies, cat toys, lost objects, more dust bunnies. But there was nothing to do but let him go at it. He got the fridge out far enough, got down to reach his arm in and unplug it. Got back up, brushed the dust bunnies off, sat down, poured himself more tea and said, now where were we? When we were finished, he plugged the fridge in and pushed it back in place.
A nice man indeed. Handy too.
Mark Critch and Mary Walsh told some great stories about him today on CBC Radio Sunday Magazine. At the end, they played Down and Out in Upalong by him with Greg Keelor and Travis Good. I’d never heard it, and it’s great.