Jackie Burroughs

Jackie Burroughs Photo


Date of Birth: February 2, 1939

Date of Death: September 22, 2010

Born in Lancashire, England, Jackie Burroughs moved to Toronto, Canada with her family when she was 13. She was enrolled at Branksome Hall, a private girls' school. Burroughs remembered herself this way: "I was the jolliest girl. I was very straight. I was head girl and reported on the smokers, and I was awful." She attended the University of Toronto, graduating in 1962 and began acting by performing in summer theater. "I sort of fell into acting after university," she recalled. Her neighbor was director René Bonniére, and he gave her a role in a television show he was doing in 1963 called Twelve and a Half Cents. "I learned a lot doing it," she said, "and then other things came up all the way along." Those other things included appearing at the prestigious Stratford Festival, where Burroughs gained valuable experience performing Shakespeare's plays.

She worked regularly in front of the camera as well. Ironically, when Burroughs was just 35, she won the role of "The Old Lady" in a National Film Board film called Running Time (1974). With her tiny frame and premature wrinkles, Burroughs made a good living through the years playing little old ladies many years older than herself. It was in 1982 that she landed her breakout role—starring opposite Richard Farnsworth in the The Grey Fox (1982). The Canadian film was nominated for an astounding 14 Genie awards (Canada's equivalent to the Oscars), and took home seven, including Best Picture and acting awards for Burroughs and Farnsworth.

The following year, Burroughs landed a role in The Dead Zone (1983), opposite Martin Sheen and Christopher Walken. In 1985, she played Dorothy in the NBC mini-series Evergreen, with Joan Allen and Armand Assanti. Also in 1985, she was asked to play the role of Amelia Evans in the Sullivan Entertainment TV movie Anne of Green Gables, reuniting her with Richard Farnsworth, who was playing Matthew Cuthbert. The experience led to a starring role on a new Sullivan Entertainment television series called Road to Avonlea. Burroughs became a household name in Canada, playing the role of the eccentric Hetty King who takes in her young niece. The series was set in the fictional village of Avonlea, Prince Edward Island—the same village featured in the highly successful Anne of Green Gables movie and its sequel, Anne of Avonlea. Road to Avonlea went on to became one of the most popular Canadian series of all time, running for seven years on CBC in Canada, and as Avonlea on The Disney Channel in the U.S., as well as playing all around the world in various countries. Burroughs won three Gemini awards (Canada's equivalent to the Emmy awards) for her performances on the show.

However, she was most proud of her work in the feature A Winter Tan (1987), calling it "one of the best films ever made. It took about three to five years doing the script, getting the money, developing, shooting and editing. And [the people involved] each made about $3,000 in three to five years. It consumed all of our time, but it's worth it to get a film out that went all over the world, that we're totally happy about." Burroughs won a Genie award as Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in the film. In 2001, she was awarded the Earle Grey award for her contributions over the years by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Burroughs has a daughter, Zoe, from her marriage to Zal Yanovsky, a founding member of the musical group The Loving Spoonful. However, the marriage ended soon after their daughter was born, and Zoe was raised by her father in Kingston, Ontario, where he owned a restaurant. After Road to Avonlea ended, Burroughs divided her time between a home in Mexico and an apartment in Toronto. Her hobbies included Tai Chi, reading novels, studying Spanish and taking dancing lessons. Surrounded by family and friends, including her daughter, Burroughs died September 22, 2010 at her Toronto home of gastric cancer.


Small Town Murder Songs (2010)
Into the Labyrinth (2008)
First Snow (2006)
Deck the Halls (2006)
The Sentinel (2006)
King's Ransom (2005)
Fever Pitch (2005)
The Limb Salesman (2004)
Going the Distance (2004)
The Republic of Love (2004)
Willard (2003)
A Guy Thing (2003)
Night's Noontime (2002)
On Their Knees (2001)
Lost and Delirious (2001)
Washed Up (2000)
Have Mercy (1999)
Last Night (1998)
Bleeders (1997)
How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly (1995) (voice)
Careful (1992)
Midday Sun, The (1989)
Food of the Gods II (1989)
John and the Missus (1987)
Taking Care of Terrific (1987)
A Winter Tan (1987)
A Judgment in Stone (1986)
Neon, an Electric Memoir (1985)
Care Bears Movie, The (1985)
The Surrogate (1984)
Chautauqua Girl (1983)
Gentle Sinners (1983)
The Dead Zone (1983)
Wars, The (1983)
The Grey Fox (1982)
The Intruder (1981)
Heavy Metal (1981) (voice)
The Kidnapping of the President (1980)
My Pleasure Is My Business (1974)
Running Time (1974)
125 Rooms of Comfort (1974)
Monkeys in the Attic (1974)
Eat Anything (1971)
Notes for a Film About Donna & Gail (1966)