Gerry Parkes (October 15, 1924 - October 19, 2014) was a character actor who originated the role of Doc for the North American version of Fraggle Rock. He reprised the role in the 1987 special A Muppet Family Christmas. Apart from his Fraggle stint (and concurrent outside appearances), he was usually credited by his full name, Gerard Parkes.
In an interview following the end of the Fraggle Rock series, Parkes remarked, "I miss my Sprocket." When the series ended, as with other cast members, he was presented a piece of the set mounted with a tiny plaque as a gift.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Parkes moved to Canada in 1956. His acting career spanned film, radio, television, and the stage. Parkes worked often on CBC radio, beginning in 1959, and shifted into television and film. In 1968, Parkes won the first Canadian film award (then called the Etrog and now known as the Gemini) for his role in the movie Isabel (as Uncle Matthew; a naming coincidence in light of his later work).
In 1969, Parkes appeared in the Festival on CBC broadcast of Harold Pinter's play The Basement, appearing with a seemingly nude Belinda Montgomery. The broadcast stirred controversy in Canada. On the small screen, he appeared on many Canadian TV staples, including the 1960s children's series The Forest Rangers (recurring as pilot Charlie Appleby), The Littlest Hobo and sitcom The King of Kensington. For US audiences, he had a key supporting role in the 1979 TV movie An American Christmas Carol (starring Henry Winkler and directed by future Fraggle Rock helmer Eric Till) and played the police captain in the 1981 pilot for detective show Cagney and Lacey. Parkes also received the Andrew Allan Award in 1983 for best radio actor.
When he was cast in Fraggle Rock, Parkes was just finishing a regular role as another type of "doc," playing Dr. Edmund Lowe on the Canadian TV series Home Fires. After Fraggle Rock, in addition to returning as Doc in A Muppet Family Christmas, Parkes continued to work in children's television, guest starring on the TVOntario puppet series Today's Special (1986) as a visiting photographer named Phil (who struggles with alcoholism). He later recurred on PBS' Shining Time Station as store owner Barton Winslow.
Other post-Fraggle credits, often playing grandfather figures or clergymen, included the films Short Circuit 2, Mother Night, the Olsen twins vehicle It Takes Two, and Trapped in Paradise (all as priests).
In 1999, Parkes appeared with Willem Dafoe and Billy Connolly in The Boondock Saints, coincidentally as a character also named "Doc," although markedly different in personality (in this case, an Irish bartender suffering from Tourette's syndrome). He reprised the role in the 2009 sequel The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day for his final on-screen appearance.
- ↑ CBC. "Gerard Parkes, Fraggle Rock actor, dead at 90." October 20, 2014 ... "four days after his 90th birthday"
- ↑ Greer, Sandy. "Small Screen." The Toronto Star, August 2, 1986
- ↑ Emotions & Images: An Interview with actress & artist Belinda Montgomery