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Although attracted to the theatre from his early youth, Gratien Gélinas realized it was practically impossible to make a career on the stage in those difficult times. Forced to give up his classical studies at the Collège de Montréal due to the economic depression, he went to work for an insurance company, first as a book-keeper and later as a publicist. To improve his chances of being promoted, he registered at the Ecole des Hautes Études commerciales de Montréal, where he completed the entire evening course.

At the same time, along with a few former classmates, he founded La Troupe des Anciens du Collège de Montréal. For the next four years, the young amateur actors presented about three productions each season in the auditorium of their Alma Mater. That gave Gratien Gélinas the chance to satisfy an irresistible taste for acting contracted during his student days.  He also made his debut as a monologist during the intervals.



Gratien Gélinas joined the Montreal Repertory Theatre, where a number of the city's most experienced non-professional actors worked under the direction of Martha Allan. Here he acted in English as well as in French, taking on Shakespeare for the first time with the role of Dr. Caïus in The Merry Wives of Windsor.



After participating in occasional broadcasts, particularly at Radio-Canada, he made his formal debut as a radio actor on CKAC, in Robert Choquette's Le Curé de Village, the first series to be presented in Montreal.



Gratien Gélinas was first recognized as a monologist with the general public in the revue Télévise-moi ça! written by Louis Francoeur and Jean Béraud and presented at the Théâtre Saint-Denis in Montreal.



He faced a sound camera for the first time playing the comic lead in a one-hour publicity film made in New York for a commercial company.



On CKAC radio, he created the Fridolin character in a series of his own writings entitled Le Carrousel de la gaieté (The Happy Merry-Go-Round). Thanks to the rapid success of this program, he was able to leave his job at the insurance company. From then on, Gratien Gélinas lived and worked exclusively in theatre and film.



He brought the Fridolin character to the stage in his own topical revue Fridolinons, which played 24 times at the Monument National, a record run for Montreal, where three or four performances was the average for most successful shows.

The radio program starring Fridolin acquired a new name with a new sponsor, becoming Le Train de Plaisir (The Pleasure Train) for the next two seasons.



Gratien Gélinas presented his second revue, Fridolinons '39 in Montreal and Quebec City.

Acclaimed as the most popular actor of the year, he was the recipient of the first Gold Medal awarded by the Montreal newspaper Radiomonde.



The growing success of his revues prompted Gratien Gélinas to devote all his time to his stage work and to give up the radio program he had been writing and performing in for the last three seasons, concurrently with his theatre activities. Fridolinons '40 was presented in Montreal and Quebec City, and the success continued through 1946.

Note: The Fridolinons revues included about 20 actors, 12 dancers and a 15 member orchestra. The numerous scenery and lighting changes required the services of some fifteen technicians. As this was a purely commercial venture, the show, to be profitable, had to play to an average capacity of 85% at the Monument National in Montreal (1400 seats) and at the Théâtre Capitol in Quebec City (1800 seats).



Gratien Gélinas wrote and produced La Dame aux Camélias, la vraie, a parody of Dumas's work, in which he starred as Fridolin. Presented during the Fridolinons '43 revue, this short-length film, is the first fiction sound colour film to be produced in Canada.



In Montreal and Chicago, Gratien Gélinas starred with Miriam Hopkins in St. Lazare's Pharmacy by Miklos Laszlo, under the direction of Eddie Dowling.



Back in Montreal, Gratien Gélinas presented Fridolinons '46 which contained, in addition to new sketches, some of the highlights of his past revues. This revue of revues ran for 82 performances, and Mr. Gélinas planned to make it the last of the Fridolinons. The sketches of his revues, in terms of length and form, have gradually begun to look like one-act plays and Mr. Gélinas felt it was time to try his hand at a three-act play.



On May 22, Tit-Coq, Gratien Gélinas's first full length play, opened at the Monument National. As it was late in the season, only a few performances were given in Montreal and Quebec City before summer closing. At the end of September, the play re-opened at the Théâtre Gésu and ran continuously in Montreal until early in June of the following year.



January 29 of 1949 marked the 100th performance of Tit-Coq. The Mayor of Montreal, Camilien Houde, Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis and Monseigneur Joseph Charbonneau, the Archbishop of Montreal, were among the notables attending the gala celebration of this event, which was without precedent in Canadian theatre. Gratien Gélinas was awarded the Grand Prix of the Société des Auteurs dramatiques de Montréal.

On the occasion of the 150th performance of Tit-Coq, at a gala presentation at the University of Montreal, Gratien Gélinas received an Honorary Doctorate, the first ever awarded to a member of the theatre in Canada.



The play continued to enjoy success in an English translation as well.  The presentation of Ti-Coq by the same company of Quebec actors in the country's two official languages was another first in Canada. Three years later, the same will be done on television with Roger Lemelin's Plouffe Family, and with all of Mr. Gélinas's subsequent plays.

Gratien Gélinas began a three-year appointment as a Board member of the National Film Board.



After its English run in Montreal, Ti-Coq was presented in Toronto, Chicago and New York. An extensive tour in both languages took  play into several Canadian cities, with performances sometimes being given in English and in French on the same day, to meet the demand of the audiences. Gratien Gélinas's company gave a total of 542 performances, breaking all Canadian records. (It is significant to note that grants and subsidies for the performing arts were still a long way off in Canada).

Mr. Gélinas was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Toronto.



Gratien Gélinas adapted Tit-Coq for the screen. He produced the film himself, co-directing it with René Delacroix.



Tit-Coq received the Film of the Year Award from the Canadian Film Awards.



TV season as author and star of the series Les quat' fers en l'air on the Radio-Canada network.



Gratien Gélinas wrote his tenth topical revue, re-introducing the Fridolin character, which he presented at the beginning of the following year at the Orpheum Theatre, in Montreal, under the title of Fridolinades '56.



A season with the Stratford Shakespearean Festival (Ontario).  Under the direction of Michael Langham, Gratien Gélinas once again took the role of Dr. Caïus in The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he played with the Montreal Repertory Theatre in 1933. He also played Charles VI in Henry V, with Christopher Plummer in the title role. At the end of the season, the company was invited to the Edimburgh Internationl Festival.



Gratien Gélinas was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Greater Montreal Arts Council, a position he occupied until 1963.

He announced his decision to start a theatre movement whose primary function was to foster a national character in the performing arts through the presentation of Canadian works. For this purpose, he bought and renovated the old Gayety Theatre in Montreal, with backing from the Quebec Government and Dow Breweries.  He founded the Comédie-Canadienne and became its director.



Tit-Coq was presented on stage and on radio in Finland and Sweden.

Gratien Gélinas was made a Member of the Royal Society of Canada.



Gratien Gélinas's second play, Bousille et les Justes opened at the Comédie-Canadienne. Mr. Gélinas played the part of Bousille, directing the play in co-operation with Jean Doat. More than 300 performances were given, in English and in French, in 26 Canadian cities, particularly at the Vancouver International Festival. It was also Canada's official dramatic presentation at the Seattle World's Fair.

Mr. Gélinas was appointed Vice-President of the Union des Artistes de Montréal and President of the Canadian Theatre Centre for the year .



Gratien Gélinas was a Founding Member of the National Theatre School of Canada.



Bousille et les Justes was televised in English and in French on the two national networks.



At the Comédie-Canadienne, Gratien Gélinas stages and plays the lead part in his eleventh topical revue, Le diable à quatre.



Bousille et les Justes was televised in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stage adaptations and presentations were done in Finland, Czechoslovakia and Germany.



Gratien Gélinas's third play, Hier les enfants dansaient, opened at the Comédie-Canadienne, under his direction.

He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan.

A committee appointed by the Canadian Centennial Library, under the chairmanship of the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, named Gratien Gélinas one of the twenty-five great Canadians whose achievements stand out above all others in the century since Confederation.



Hier les enfants dansaient was presented at the Charlottetown Festival in an English version by Mavor Moore, under the title Yesterday the Children Were Dancing.

Gratien Gélinas was awarded the Grand Prix de Théâtre Victor-Morin by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal.

He was awarded the Order of Canada Medal for exceptional services rendered to the Nation.



Honorary Doctorate from McGill University, Montreal.

Television presentation of Yesterday the Children Were Dancing on the CBC national network.



Honorary Doctorate from the University of New Brunswick.

Special Award from the Concert Society of the Jewish People's Schools for the outstanding contribution of Mr. Gélinas to the Canadian theatre.

Gratien Gélinas was appointed Chairman of the Canadian Film Development Corporation.



Honorary Doctorate from Trent University.



Yesterday the Children Were Dancing was presented through the United States on the educational television networks.



Two films by Gratien Gélinas, La Dame aux Camélias (1942) and Tit-Coq (1952) were presented at the Journées cinématographiques de Poitiers (France).

In May, Mr. Gélinas sold his interests in the Comédie-Canadienne theatre to the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde, of Montreal.

Mr. Gélinas headed the Canadian Delegation to the XXVe Festival International du Film in Cannes, as he did again in 1975.

On December 16, première of Bousille et les Justes at the Chem Theatre (Czechoslovakia), in a Czech adaptation by Ivana Vadlejchova.



Hier les enfants dansaient was presented at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris.

Honorary Doctorate from Mount Allison University (New Brunswick).



Gratien Gélinas directed a revival of Bousille et les Justes at the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale in Montreal.



The revival of Bousille et les Justes continued at the Compagnie Jean Duceppe in Montreal, the Théâtre du Trident in Quebec City, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and the Théâtre Populaire du Québec, which took the play on tour to some thirty Canadian cities. The 567 professional performances given so far of Bousille et les Justes broke the national record, held until now by Tit-Coq, Gratien Gélinas's first play.



Yesterday the Children Were Dancing was included in this season's program at the Peterborough Summer Theatre in Ontario.



On February 28, Gratien Gélinas left the chairmanship of the Canadian Film Development Corporation, to go back to his first calling as playwright and actor.



Following two years of revision and compilation, publication by Montreal's Editions Quinze, of Fridolinades 45-46, the first publication of four volumes presenting the sketches of his Fridolinons! revues, written by Mr. Gélinas from 1938 to 1946

Bousille and the Just was presented at the Lodz Theatre (Poland) in a Polish version by Georges Lisowski.



Publication by Editions Quinze, of Montreal, of Fridolinades 43-44 and Fridolinades 41-42.



Gratien Gélinas directed a revival of Tit-Coq at the Nouvelle compagnie Théatrale, in Montreal.



Preparation for publication of Fridolinades 38-39-40.

Gratien Gélinas played the part of Sam Latour, in English and French, in the feature film The Tin Flute, based on the novel by Gabrielle Roy, directed by Claude Fournier.



Gratien Gélinas was elected First Vice-Chairman of L'Union des Artistes, of Montreal, occupying this position until April 1985.

He adapted for Radio-Canada (Television) his play Tit-Coq, which he directed in cooperation with Florent Forget.

He played the part of Father Martineau in Norman Jewison's feature film Agnes of God, with Jane Fonda and Ann Bancroft.



Gratien Gélinas was made Chevalier of L'Ordre National du Québec.

He was elected Chairman of La caisse de Sécurité du spectacle of L'Union des Artistes.



In May, Gratien Gélinas was appointed by the Honourable Marcel Masse, Minister of Communications, francophone President of a bilingual task force with a mandate to produce a report on the status of the Artist in Canada.

On September 29, a new play written by Gratien Gélinas, La Passion de Narcisse Mondoux, was produced for the first time by Le Théâtre du P'tit bonheur, of Toronto. It was performed by Huguette Oligny and himself, under the direction of Yvette Brind'Amour.



January 9 marked the opening by the National Arts in Ottawa of a show created from excerpts of the Fridolin Revues, which Gratien Gélinas wrote and produced in Montreal starting in 1938 until 1946. Denise Filiatrault directed the production. The show was very well received. It was re-presented in December at Le Théâtre du Rideau Vert, in Montreal and in February 88 by Le Trident at the Palais-Montcalm theatre in Quebec City.

On January 14, Le Théâtre du Rideau Vert also presented La Passion de Narcisse Mondoux, again played by Huguette Oligny and the author. (It is remarkable that two works by Gratien Gélinas, written after an interval of forty five years, were played simultaneously on Canadian stages, both being extremely well received). The play then went on tour ending with a return engagement at the Rideau Vert in September.

Gratien Gélinas was awarded an Honorary Diploma by the Canadian Conference of the Arts, in Calgary.

In June, in Saint-Tropez, France, Gratien Gélinas began the shooting of Les Tisserands du Pouvoir continued in Montreal. It consisted of two feature films and a six hour television series directed by Claude Fournier.

Gratien Gélinas received an Honorary doctorate from University of Ottawa.



While La Passion de Narcisse Mondoux continued its career in French, the play was translated into English by Linda Gaboriau and the author. The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux opened in English in Chester N.S. in July, with the same cast. A Canadian tour followed, Huguette Oligny and Gratien Gélinas playing alternately in English and French depending on the audience. The play was performed for the 200th time in Quebec City October 8, 1988.

Publication by Leméac, of Montreal, of La Passion de Narcisse Mondoux and of Fridolinades 38-39-40.



After a tour across Canada which ended in February in Montreal, The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux opened in New York City for a series of English performances at the Apple Corps Theatre, again with Huguette Oligny and Gratien Gélinas. They also performed once per week in French. The play was very well received by the press, notably the New York Times and the New York Daily News.

Gratien Gélinas received an Honorary doctorate from the Royal Military College in St-Jean.

In November, the Rideau Vert presented a second show from the Fridolinades, directed again by Denise Filiatrault. Subsequently the show was toured throughout the province of Québec with a greater success than the previous one.

Gratien Gélinas was named Great Montrealer of the year during the 6th Great Montrealers gala.



The presentation of The passion of Narcisse Mondoux was continued in English and in French on many Canadian stages.

In May la Compagnie Jean Duceppe revived Bousille et les justes at the Port-Royal Theatre of the Place des Arts under the direction of André Brassard.

Gratien Gélinas became Companion of the Order of Canada.

In the Fall, the Montreal newspaper La Presse awarded Gratien Gélinas the Prix d'excellence 1990.



In February, Huguette Oligny and Gratien Gélinas played the 500th performance of The passion of Narcisse Mondoux concluding one month of performances at the St-Lawrence Centre for the Arts, in Toronto. The total number of performances reached 630 at the end of the tour.

In October, the Trident revived Bousille et les justes at the Octave-Crémazie theatre, in Quebec City, in the course of it's theatrical season.



In January, the  théâtre de la Bordée, also from Quebec City, revived Tit-Coq, also in the course of it's theatrical season.



In view of the success obtained the preceding year, la Bordée continued the presentation of Tit-Coq, in January, for grand total of 620 performances to date.



In January, Gratien Gélinas was made a Chevalier de l'ordre de la Pléïade of the Association internationale des parlementaires de langue française.



Bousille et les justes was presented for the fourth time by Théâtre ProFusion Inc. at the Vieux Terrebonne theatre before being presented on tour throughout Quebec as well as at the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale in November. 84 additional performances are added to the play’s record, for a grand total to date of 705.