Jonathan Crombie and Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story.Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie, who achieved international fame by teasing, courting and finally winning the heart of Anne of Green Gables, has died. He was just 48 years old.
Crombie died of a brain haemmorhage in New York, his family have confirmed.
Though he enjoyed a long career with an impressive list of credits in film and television and on the Broadway stage, Crombie never quite escaped playing Gilbert Blythe in the iconic 1985 miniseries Anne of Green Gables.
Nor did he want to, returning to the role for the project’s two direct sequels, the 1987 television movie Anne of Avonlea, and the 1990 television movie Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story.
He also appeared in a 1992 spin-off television series, titled simply Avonlea.
The adaptations were based on an iconic Canadian novel first published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables, about an elderly couple who want to adopt a boy to work on their farm, but are sent an 11-year-old orphan girl instead.
“I think he was really proud of being Gilbert Blythe and was happy to answer any questions,” Crombie’s sister Carrie told the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).
“He really enjoyed that series and was happy, very proud of it, we all were,” she said.
Crombie is the son of a well-known Canadian political family; his father David Crombie, is a former mayor of Toronto and former Canadian federal cabinet minister.
Television producer Kevin Sullivan, who worked on Anne of Green Gables, told CBC the news would be devastating to those who grew up with the universally acclaimed adaptation of the book.
“It’s such a devastating tragedy,” Sullivan said. “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.”
Sullivan added: “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.”
According to his family, the actor’s organs were donated and his remains will be cremated.
They will then be taken from New York to his hometown, Toronto, on a bus, out of respect for the fact that he disliked airplane travel and regularly travelled between the two cities by bus.
“That’s how we are going to be bringing him back,” his sister Carrie said. “We felt that it was an ode to Jonathan.”
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