The chronology of a face

The divine manner of actor Jackie Burroughs has titillated since she first stepped into the limelight – her strong jaw saying “No” while those big brown eyes say “Yes.” Perennially, she plays characters who swim upstream – outsiders and eccentrics. And each one she makes her own, unique creation.

But whether free spirits or corsetted spinsters, Jackie somehow manages to redefine the way we see women. Crusty or alluring, desires shines through her portrayals, illuminating us all.

Here then are some highlights from a radiant career.

1960s ¥ The beginning

Jackie leaves her hometown, Niagara-On-The-Lake, and starts her career.

1967 ¥ Jackie stars in The Ernie Game, filmed in Montreal. The recently opened Metro is used as background. During parties, Leonard Cohen continually serenades the cast, which includes every hippie in Montreal… and Louis Negin.

1970s ¥ The ascension

The decade sees Jackie become one of the reigning queens of the theatre. She’s at Stratford, during Robin Phillip’s heyday. She plays Portia to Hume Cronyn’s Shylock and does several plays with Peter O’Toole. Only the very stoutest of hearts make it through the cast parties.

1980s ¥ Her decade

The Grey Fox in 1982; her first Genie Award for Best Supporting Actress. Jackie plays Kate Flynn, a suffragette and free spirit. Pauline Kael writes in the New Yorker: “At first Jackie Burroughs… is a little irritating. She very quickly – maybe it’s her big, toothy, sensual smile – won me over. Also, I realized how badly the movie needs Jackie Burroughs’s flamboyance – she gives it some artifice and some musk.” Smell that.

1983 ¥ The Wars bombs but its stellar cast survives. It stars everyone fabulous: Martha Henry, Brent Carver, Willian Hutt and Ann-Marie MacDonald (as the Beaver), to name a few. Another Best Supporting Actress Genie for Jackie.

1984 ¥ White Biting Dog. A landmark for the Tarragon Theatre. Did you hear the one about a dog who walks up to a suicidal guy? Well, Jackie plays his mother, tottering atop six inch stilettos and saving the day. Her legs have never looked better.

1987 ¥ A bravura performance in the indie hit, A Winter’s Tan. Jackie co-directs herself to a Genie-Award-winning performance as a middle-aged woman in pursuit of southern spice. More than her tongue gets burnt as Jackie flashes a flawless tan.

1990s ¥ The adulation

1990-96 ¥ CBC TV’s The Road To Avonlea, with its pretty pictures and “Who burnt the apple pie?” plot linesfinds world-wide appeal. Jackie plays the outspoken spinster Hetty King.

1998 ¥ Armistead Maupin’s More Tales Of The City airs on US cable. Jackie plays Mother Mucca – a cussing 90-year-old madme in a dessert whorehouse. Olympia Dukakis, who is 10 years older than Jackie, plays her transexual offspring. Talk about your miracle births.

1999 ¥ Coming up this fall, Jackie plays CSIS spy master Caitlin Crawford in the CBC series Cover Me, giving a whole new attitude to undercover operations.


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