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Gordon Lightfoot goes to Hollywood

His melodic, soulful voice is unmistakable. A modern-day troubadour, Gordon Lightfoot has touched the lives of millions of people with his thoughtful, evocative portraits of Canadian life and landscape. He's a musician steeped in the folk tradition, his catalogue of songs, including such classics as Canadian Railroad Trilogy and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, earning him a place in the pantheon of Canadian icons.

Hollywood comes knocking on Gordon Lightfoot's door as he accepts a major role in the western Harry Tracy, Desperado, a bio-pic about the last surviving member of the Hole-In-The-Wall gang. Lightfoot plays Morrie Nathan, a U.S. Marshal trying to bring the legendary outlaw (played by Bruce Dern) to justice. In this CBC Radio clip, Sunday Morning travels to the British Columbia set of the film to talk to the would-be thespian.

"It's a glorified game of cowboys and Indians, is what it is. It's like going back to your childhood," says a jovial Lightfoot when asked to describe the experience. Working alongside Dern and co-star Helen Shaver doesn't seem to have intimidated the rookie actor. "He's doing fine," offers director Billy Graham. "He hasn't acted before, so we have to sort of lead him along by the hand, but he's coming off very well." 
Harry Tracy, Desperado wasn't Lightfoot's only foray into acting. In 1988 he appeared in an episode of the ABC television series Hotel, playing a country singer on the comeback trail.
• Lightfoot recorded My Love For You for the movie's soundtrack, although no soundtrack album was ever released.
• Lightfoot's music can be heard in several other films including Hail Hero! (1969), Paperback Hero (1969), Lightheaded (2002) and The Brown Bunny (2003).

• Known as The Oregon Badman, Harry Tracy -- born Henry Severn in Pittfield, Wis. in 1874 -- was a member of the infamous Hole-In-The-Wall gang during the 1890s. Tracy and his cohorts were a group of roughnecks and outlaws involved in cattle rustling, train robbing and highway stick-ups. Tracy died in 1902 after successfully escaping from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. He committed suicide rather than return to prison after being caught.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: Nov. 23, 1980
Guest(s): Gordon Lightfoot
Host: Bronwyn Drainie
Reporter: Bill Barringer
Duration: 6:40

Last updated: April 18, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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