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Gerald Pelrine

Gerald Pelrine performing as John Muir, 1989
  • Gerald Pelrine (June 13, 1955 - Jan. 15, 2020) was an actor, writer, folk singer, and puppeteer who lived in Door County, Wisconsin. He wrote and performed the Heritage Ensemble (20 years), the American Folklore Theatre and its successor Northern Sky Theater in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, and for Wisconsin Public Television and performed on tour across the U.S. For a number of years his theater work focused on folk singing and storytelling. As his friend and college Frederick "Doc" Heide said, "One of Gerald’s greatest gifts as an actor was his stentorian voice, which could soothe like a mother’s caress or penetrate like a javelin fashioned from thunder." He wrote and starred in numerous one-man shows over the years. Gerald was most proud to have played General Sherman, John Muir and Clarence Darrow. He died from a heart attack at the age of 64 on January 15, 2020.
  • In 1988 he first learned about John Muir when he was cast as Muir by Frederick "Doc" Heide in the theatrical production "The Mountains Call My Name." At the time, Gerald had never heard of John Muir. "The Mountains Call My Name" was first presented by the Heritage Ensemble at the Peninsula State Park Amphitheater in Door County, Wisconsin.
  • Gerald later portrayed Muir "in-character" in "An Infinite Storm of Beauty" inspired by the work of Graham White, who guided Gerald's progress and focuses on Muir's Alaska and California writings. He also performed "The Tale of Stickeen" drawn from Muir's writings and the journals of Samuel Hall Young. Gerald's version of Stickeen was recorded and is available on the 1999 John Muir Tribute CD.
  • Gerald was also an early leader in the formation of a new group devoted to John Muir's life and legacy in Wisconsin. Today, the Wisconsin Friends of John Muir are dedicated to creating enlightened public awareness about the life and legacy of John Muir, who moved from Scotland to Wisconsin at age 10, and nurtured his prophetic views of life, science, spirituality, and the essential role of wildness in nature during the 18 years he spent in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest and Canada.
  • Gerald said Muir's biggest influence on him is "Seeing that in the beauty of wildness lies potential for the most immediate, worldly manifestation of Divine union. I was not what you would call an outdoorsman or ecologist, though inclined in that way. Muir's vision changed mine. What I most appreciate about Muir is his ability to speak to me gently yet profoundly of things I instantly know to be as important as anything in life - like a father, or lover, like the wind. Like Shakespeare, Muir speaks with a poetry, clarity and immediacy that resonates with eternal 'I wish I'd said that' truth."

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