Award-winning actress Jackie Burroughs died of stomach cancer surrounded by family and close friends at her home in Toronto Wednesday afternoon. She was 71.
Born in Lancashire, England on Feb. 2, 1939, she immigrated to Canada with her family in the early 1950s. A classically trained dancer, she used every ounce of her physical and sentient being to create emotion and character on stage. Director Robin Phillips, who worked with her at the Stratford Festival, said she shared with the late William Hutt "the ability to find humour in the tragic roles and tragedy in the humorous ones."
Best known for her continuing role as the twitchy and eccentric Hetty King in the television series Road to Avonlea, Burroughs' legacy as an screen actress belongs to a series of luminous roles including Kate Flynn in the The Grey Fox and Maryse Holder in A Winter Tan, a film which she also co-directed and co-wrote, as well as many stage roles in both the contemporary and classic theatre. A highly creative person whose interests encompassed writing and gardening, she loved the process of acting and of challenging audiences rather than simply nailing down a performance that she could repeat every night. Actress and director Sarah Polley, who worked with her on Road to Avonlea, described her as "an artist in the most true, pure, brutal sense of the world," and somebody who was "passionate, fierce, uncompromising, honest."
Married briefly in the mid-1960s to the late Zalman Yanovsky of The Lovin' Spoonful, she leaves her daughter Zoe Yanovsky (proprietor of the Kingston restaurants Chez Piggy and Pan Chancho), two grandchildren, her brother Gary and her extended family. Funeral arrangements are pending. A full obituary is forthcoming.