Pete Seeger dies: The folk singer’s movie and TV life

APphoto_Obit Seeger
This May 13, 1975, file photo shows folk singer Pete Seeger, left, performing at the Rally for Détente at Carnegie Hall in New York. The American troubadour, folk singer and activist Seeger died Monday Jan. 27, 2014, at age 94.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Pete Seeger, the singer, songwriter and social activist who died  Monday at age 94, didn’t have much of a movie career, making his mark with music instead. But the troubadour did pop up on screen from time to time, in documentaries, concert footage, his own TV series and even the odd comedy. Here’s a look at some of Seeger’s work on the big and small screens.

“To Hear Your Banjo Play” (1947)

In 1947, a young Seeger appeared in and narrated this 16-minute survey of folk music in the U.S. written by musicologist Alan Lomax. The short opens with Seeger playing “Sally Ann,” after which Lomax calls to him from off-screen and says, “Hello there, Peter. What’s that funny-looking guitar you’re playing?"  Seeger also participated in a 2004 documentary about Lomax called “Lomax the Songhunter.”

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“Pete Seeger: Live in Australia” (1963)

Seeger, who had landed on the McCarthy-era Hollywood blacklist, embarked on a 10-month world tour in 1963. This concert documentary captures a 105-minute show in Melbourne, in which he performs such songs as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.”

“Rainbow Quest” (1966)

As Seeger’s blacklisting began to end in the mid-'60s, he hosted a regional folk-music program called “Rainbow Quest.” This 1966 episode features Johnny Cash and June Carter.


“Alice’s Restaurant” (1969)

Seeger also appeared in Arthur Penn’s film adaptation of the Arlo Guthrie folk song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre.” Seeger played himself in a scene in which Guthrie visits his father, Woody (a good friend of Seeger’s), in the hospital.

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“The Internationale” (2000)

Ever the activist, Seeger participated in this documentary about the left-wing anthem “The Internationale.” In the trailer below, Seeger says, “If there’s a world here 100 years from now, this song will be part of that world.”

“Pete Seeger: The Power of Song” (2007)

Seeger himself was the subject of a documentary in 2007, a mix of interviews, archival footage and home movies illuminating his life and work that aired as part of PBS’ acclaimed “American Masters” series. In the film, fellow musician Bonnie Raitt says Seeger’s greatest gift “was shepherding songs of peace and justice.”



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