Gratien Gélinas


Gratien Gélinas 1909-1999

1989 Cultural Cultural

Gratien Gélinas was born in Saint-Tite in 1909. An author, actor and director, Gratien Gélinas’s first interest was economics, which he studied at the École des Hautes études commerciales. In 1929, he was involved in a number of theatre troupes, but it wasn’t until 1937 that he created his Fridolin character for a series of radio shows, and when the character quickly became a hit, he decided to devote himself to theatre. He put together the revue Fridolinons, which he would recreate every year from 1938 to 1946.

In 1942, he wrote and directed the film La dame aux Camélias, la vraie, a satire of the book by Dumas and the first fiction talkie produced in colour in Canada.

In 1948, Mr. Gélinas wrote Tit-Coq, a play that held the record for performances in Canada and that won him the Grand Prize of the Société des auteurs dramatiques de Montréal. He was made a member of the board of directors of the National Film Board in 1950 and vice chair of the Conseil des arts de Montréal in 1957. That same year, Gratien Gélinas founded the Théâtre du Comédie Canadienne and became its director. In 1960, he helped found the National Theatre School and from 1969 to 1978 was the chair of the Société de développement de l'industrie cinématographique.

In 1980, Gratien Gélinas brought together the essence of his Fridolinons revues and published Les Fridolinades in four volumes, which would appear one per year until 1983. In 1984, Mr. Gélinas was appointed senior vice-president of the Union des artistes. In January 1985, he began writing a play.
Gratien Gélinas’s contribution to literature has been recognized in many ways: through honorary doctorates, through his election to the Royal Society of Canada and through many awards, such as the Grand Prix de théâtre Victor-Morin. He was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967 and a member of the academy of Great Montrealers in 1989.

Source: Ordre national du Québec

Photo Credit : André Le Coz / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada / PA-199456