The Wrap is reporting the death of Gerard Parkes, best known for playing the gruff yet lovable Doc, the only human character on Fraggle Rock, as well as the gruff yet not as lovable Doc, the Tourette’s-afflicted bartender in The Boondock Saints. Parkes died just a few days after his 90th birthday, in his hometown of Toronto.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Parkes moved to Canada in his 30s and soon found steady work in radio, theater, film, and television, including the Canadian family programs The Littlest Hobo, The Forest Rangers, and Home Fires. But he became a familiar face to families worldwide with Fraggle Rock, Jim Henson’s puppet series exploring the various creatures living within a system of caves—the portal to which, for viewers as well, was a tiny hole located within the workshop of Parkes’ Doc. An inventor whose closest friend was his dog, Sprocket, Doc was a blustering sort who seemed perpetually perplexed by the postcards he’d receive from Uncle Matt, addressed to ”that Gobo Fraggle fella.” Parkes played Doc with an endearing mixture of irascibility and tenderness, and his wacky, often-failed inventions made him among the silliest of the “Silly Creatures.”
In addition to playing Doc again in A Muppet Family Christmas, Parkes had a similar role as the quirky general store owner Barton Winslow in Shining Time Station. He also put his Irishness to good use as a succession of priests in movies like Trapped In Paradise, It Takes Two, Mother Night, The January Man, and Short Circuit 2. But most memorable was his role as a completely different kind of Doc in The Boondock Saints and its sequel, which played off of Parkes’ persona by casting him as the owner of an Irish pub who was given to mixed metaphors and sudden explosions of profanity.
In a statement to CBC News, Parkes’ longtime agent, Gerry Jordan, said he would “love” being most remembered for his role on Fraggle Rock. “He had a thrill doing that show,” Jordon said. “We got loads of fan mail from kids and adults around the world. He was a magical man and a terrific performer.”