'Anne of Green Gables' star Jonathan Crombie dies at age 48
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, April 18, 2015 5:03PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 18, 2015 10:52PM EDT
Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie, most famous for playing the love interest in Anne of Green Gables movies, has died.
The 48-year-old suffered a brain hemorrhage and died in New York City on April 15. News of his death was released Saturday April 18.
Crombie rose to stardom after he won the part of Gilbert Blythe in the 1985 Anne of Gables television movie, which was adapted from Lucy Maud Montgomery's best-selling Canadian novel.
Two sequels were also produced in 1987 and 2000.
Kevin Sullivan, the producer of Anne of Gables, described Crombie as a hardworking actor who was modest about his talents as a performer.
"He was in some ways unaware of this incredible persona that he gave off onscreen – it was a gift – and he was able to touch audiences with it," Sullivan told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
Crombie was a relative unknown until he caught the attention of Diane Polley, casting director of Anne of Green Gables and mother of Sarah Polley.
After his performance in a high school play at Lawrence Park College Institute in Toronto, Polley convinced Sullivan to give the Canadian actor a shot.
Sullivan, who had been auditioning actors from across Canada and the U.S., was immediately struck by Crombie's performance opposite co-star Megan Follows.
"We met, did no screen test -- he literally walked on set -- and was in some ways thrown into the part, but he was amazing because of the chemistry with Megan Follows … was something like having lightning in a bottle," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that Follows, who already had onscreen experience under her belt, and Crombie, who was a new to the world television, helped each other cope with the stress of the role.
"They both supported each other extremely well, and out of that blossomed a marvelous friendship that went on over many, many, years," Sullivan said.
Follows told The Canadian Press that Crombie's death came as a "big shock."
She added that Crombie was a "sweetheart" and that they had a lot of fun together because he had an "amazing sense of humour."
"I just remember at times just laughing so hard that you'd just be crying," said Follows.
"He was so playful and silly and as I said really bright, so his humour was always informed with that, which made him even funnier," she added.
Crombie was also a comedian and performed as part of a sketch comedy troupe on the Canadian TV Series Comedy Now! in 1998.
His friends said he was funny, unpredictable and charming, and had a knack for coming up with games.
"He would come up sometimes with little rules for little word games or quiz shows," said fellow actor Don McKellar.
"He was (a) really, really funny guy and made me laugh more than anything," he added.
More recently, Crombie played the lead role in the Broadway production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" in 2008, and starred in a January episode of the hit TV show "The Good Wife."
Crombie's father, David, was the mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978. He was also a federal cabinet minister in the 1980s under the Brian Mulroney government.
A memorial honouring Crombie's life is expected to be held in the coming weeks.
With a report from CTV’s Vanessa Lee and files from The Canadian Press