Janine Sutto (1921-2017)
2014 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)
Janine Sutto is one of Canada’s most celebrated and respected actresses. In a career spanning over 70 years, this brilliant artist has played hundreds of roles on stage, radio and television. She has appeared at major theatres across Quebec in productions ranging from classics by Molière and Shakespeare to works by modern Quebec playwrights, and is well known to radio and TV audiences for her starring roles in numerous dramas and series. In addition to her artistic activities, she has taught at the National Theatre School of Canada and at the Saint-Hyacinthe and Sainte-Thérèse Cégeps. She is the spokesperson for the Montreal Association for the Intellectually Handicapped and honorary spokesperson for Baluchon Alzheimer, a non-profit respite care organization.
Ms. Sutto was born in Paris in 1921 and moved to Montreal with her family in 1930. She began her professional acting career in her teens. “In those days, there were no theatre schools,” she recalls. “Our theatrical education took a lot longer because we had to figure it out as we went along, with the help of our elders.” She was quickly hailed as one of the bright lights of the emerging Quebec theatre, and enjoyed hugely successful engagements at such leading companies as the Montreal Repertory Theatre, the Théâtre Arcade, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, and Théâtre du Rideau Vert. Among her many triumphs, she appeared in the original 1968 production of Michel Tremblay’s iconic play Les Belles sœurs
; over four decades later, in 2010, she performed in the musical adaptation Belles sœurs
, a huge hit in Montreal, on tour across Quebec, and in Paris (five-week engagement).
An icon of Quebec television, she has appeared in some 70 series and dramas, notably Les Belles Histoires des pays d’en haut, Joie de vivre
, Septième nord
, and Poivre et sel
. Selected film roles include Kamouraska
(2005), La Capture
(2006), and Route 132
Ms. Sutto is a Companion of the Order of Canada (1991) and a Knight of the National Order of Quebec and of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France. Her other awards and distinctions include the RIDEAU Hommage award, Gémeaux Award Grand Prix de l’Académie, Gascon-Thomas Award, and Quebecor Prize. Her biography, Vivre avec le destin
(written by her son-in-law, Jean-François Lépine), was published in 2010.