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Pelletier, Denise

CTE photo
Denise Pelletier (left) in the Radio-Canada/CBC TV phenomenon La Famille Plouffe/The Plouffe Family

Renowned actor, comfortable working in both French and English, born in Saint-Jovite, Quebec in 1929 and died in Montreal, Quebec in 1976. She was the sister of actor Gilles Pelletier. Her father was a notary and she spent his childhood travelling between St-Jovite, Montreal and Kamouraska.

She career blossomed with the growth of Canada's theatre, and she perform with the Montreal Repertory Theatre, Compagnons de Saint-Laurent, the Comédie-Canadienne, the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (from the start), the Stratford Festival, Neptune Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre, and on tours to Europe and the then Soviet Union.

She played the ingenues and grande dames in much of the classical and modern repertory including the ancients, the works of Molière and Shakespeare (both in French and English), Brecht, Albee and Strindberg.

She received the Centennial Medal, was a member of the Order of Canada, won the Molson Prize and several other prizes and distinctions.

Mme Pelletier became nationally recognized when she starred in the television series La Famille Plouffe/The Plouffe Family which played one night on Radio-Canada in French and the next night, with the same actors, on the CBC in English.

Mme Pelletier's performances, whether in the classical or modern works, were electric. She was beloved of audiences, critics and, particularly, her colleagues, like Jean Gascon, who were delighted to work with her again and again.

In 1976 she was touring a production of The Divine Sarah which had played, among other venues, the Centaur Theatre and was slated to be translated into French. However, Mme Pelletier died while undergoing open-heart surgery. She left behind a son, Stéphane Zarov, who is also in the theatre. The main house of the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale / Théâtre Denise-Pelletier was named after her; now the company itself has taken her name.

The government of Quebec has also named an award in her honour. It is the highest distinction given to artists in the performing arts. In 1998, it was conferred on her brother, Gilles Pelletier.

Viewings: Côté cour... côté jardin, National Film Board, 1953, dir: Roger Blais - backstage during a TNM performance of L'Avare/The Miser

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois

Last updated 2020-01-16