Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie, known to legions of fans as Gilbert Blythe in the CBC version of "Anne of Green Gables," died April 15 of a reported brain hemorrhage. He was 48.
Crombie was plucked from relative obscurity to play Blythe in the CBC miniseries, based on the novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, which launched in 1985 and starred Megan Follows as the titular orphan. He reprised the part in 1987 for the "Anne of Avonlea" TV movie, in 1992 on the spinoff series "Avonlea," and in 2000 for another movie, "Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story."
In addition to that iconic role, Crombie was a well-known stage and improv performer, especially in his native Canada, and he also starred in a Broadway staging of the musical "The Drowsy Chaperone" in 2006. His most recent television credit was a guest-starring role this year on CBS drama "The Good Wife."
Kevin Sullivan, the producer of the "Anne" miniseries and movies, called Crombie's death "a devastating tragedy," and said the actor mirrored his onscreen alter ego in many ways.
"I think for legions of young women around the world who fell in love with the 'Anne of Green Gables' films, Jonathan literally represented the quintessential boy next door, and there were literally thousands of women who wrote to him over the years who saw him as a perfect mate," Sullivan said in an interview with the CBC. " ... In reality, Jonathan was as generous, as kind, as sensitive and as ambitious, in some ways, as the character he came to be identified with."
Crombie's sister, Carrie Crombie, told CBC that a "huge, wonderful celebration of life" would be planned for the late actor sometime in the next few weeks.
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