CBC Digital Archives

Telescope: Chief Dan George

Smart and timely, Telescope promised to zoom in on famous and fascinating Canadians living all over the world. The brainchild of Fletcher Markle, this half-hour documentary series premiered in 1963 and ran for 10 seasons. Beginning in 1966, Telescope became the first Canadian-produced colour program on the CBC Television network.

Until eight years ago, he was a First Nations chief in Burrard Inlet, B.C. Now, he's a Hollywood hit doing publicity jaunts to New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. Despite his newfound fame, Academy Award-nominated Chief Dan George remains a dignified and serene presence, proud to speak for his people. Telescope meets the public and private Chief Dan George, and talks to co-star Dustin Hoffman, whose stories recall George's humour, stamina and emotional fortitude.
• Born in 1899, Chief Dan George was over 60 years old before he landed his first acting gig. As he says in this clip, he got the part on the CBC drama Cariboo Country thanks to his son.

• In 1967, he starred in the stage premier of George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe in a part that the playwright expanded after seeing George in rehearsals. Also in that Centennial Year, his recitation of his own Lament for Confederation elevated his profile as both a performer and a spokesman for aboriginal people.

• In addition to his Oscar-nominated role starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man, Chief Dan George appeared in several films including The Outlaw Josey Wales and Americathon, and television programs including The Beachcombers, Macus Welby, M.D. and The Incredible Hulk.

• George wrote a number of books, including My Hearts Soars and My Spirit Soars.

• In this program, Chief Dan George is referred to as Squamish. He was, however, of the Tsleil-waututh nation, a closely related but politically separate nation of the Coast Salish people.

• Chief Dan George died on Sept. 23, 1981. He was 82.

Medium: Television
Program: Telescope
Broadcast Date: May 25, 1971
Guest(s): George Bob, Chief Dan George, Dustin Hoffman, Philip Keatley
Host: Ken Cavanagh
Duration: 22:37
Movie footage "Little Big Man" courtesy Cinema Center Films

Last updated: June 18, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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