Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Godspeed Gerard Parkes

Gerard Parkes, who appeared on the 1960s Canadian show The Forest Rangers, starred on the Eighties Canadian show Home Fires, and played Doc on Fraggle Rock, died 19 October 2014 at the age of 90.

Gerard Parkes was born on 16 October 1924 in Dublin, Ireland. He trained at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and appeared on stage in his native Ireland before immigrating to Canada in 1956. Mr. Parkes started his career with CBC Radio in 1958. He made his television debut on an episode of Encounter in 1960. He made his film debut in David Thompson: The Great Mapmaker in 1964.

In the Sixties Gerard Parkes had a recurring role on the Canadian family show The Forest Rangers and he was a regular on the fantasy shows Barney Boomer and Upside Town/Swingaround. He guest starred on the shows Seaway, Adventures in Rainbow Country, and Play for Today. He appeared in the films A Great Big Thing (1968), Isabel (1968), and  The First Time (1969).

In the Seventies Gerard Parkes appeared in the mini-series The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway  He began playing the regular role of Doc Lowe on Home Fires in 1980, a role he would continue to play into the early Eighties. He guest starred on the shows King of Kensington and A Gift to Last. He appeared in such TV movies as Bethune and An American Christmas Carol, He appeared in the films Fleur bleue (1971), The Pyx (1973), Running Time (1974), Second Wind (1976), and Who Has Seen the Wind (1977).

In the Eighties Gerard Parkes appeared as eccentric inventor Doc on Fraggle Rock. He was the only human regular on the show. He also appeared as Doc in the television special A Muppet Family Christmas in 1987. He guest starred on such shows as The Littlest Hobo, Cagney & Lacey, Night Heat, Today's Special, The Twilight Zone, War of the Worlds, Friday the 13th: the Series, and Ray Bradbury Theatre. He appeared in the films Yesterday (1981), Spasms (1983), La ligne de chaleur (1987), Short Circuit 2 (1988), The Gunrunner (1989), Speaking Parts (1989), and The Last Winter (1989).

In the Nineties Gerard Parkes had a recurring role on Shining Time Station. He appeared on the mini-series Storm of the Century. He appeared in the films Money (1991), The Adjuster (1991), Trapped in Paradise (1994), It Takes Two (1995), Mother Night (1996), The Boondock Saints (1999), and Deeply (2000).

In the Naughts Mr. Parkes appeared in the films Moss (2004), Saint Ralph (2004), and The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009).

While Gerard Parkes spent much his career playing physicians or priests, he was a very versatile actor. This can be proven by looking at two of his better known roles, both of which were named "Doc" (and neither of which was a physician or priest). Doc on Fraggle Rock was an eccentric inventor whose inventions were usually of the Rube Goldberg sort. Doc in both The Boondock Saints and its sequel was the owner of McGinty's bar in Boston. He had Tourette's Syndrome and was as a result prone to spouting obscenities at any given moment. The two Docs were about as different as can be, and yet Gerard Parkes played both excellently. He also gave a fine performance as the dotard, if slightly creepy Uncle Matthew in Isabel, for which he won the Gemini award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor. Although he is perhaps best known as Doc on Fraggle Rock, Gerard Parkes played a number of different roles in his career and did well in all of them.

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