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Telescope: Chief Dan George

The Story

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.

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

Did You know?

• 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.  That can be seen here.

• 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.


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