This is a wound I shall bear forever.
April 18, 2015 7:13 PM   Subscribe

"I am in the depths of despair." Jonathan Crombie, the raven-haired actor best known to a generation of literature lovers as Gilbert Blythe in the classic Anne of Green Gables miniseries(es), has died at age 48 of an apparent brain hemorrhage.

Bridge scene (ending) in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel

Crombie, the son of former Toronto mayor and Cabinet minister David Crombie, was also well known for the role of Man in Chair in the Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone. He was also known for playing playwright Lionel Train in Season 2 of Slings and Arrows and recently had a role in The Good Wife (episode: S6E11 "Hail Mary").

Videos from Sullivan Entertainment:
Young Jonathan Crombie interview
Crombie on Anne and Gilbert's relationship
Jonathan & Megan vs. Gilbert & Anne
Jonathan Crombie: The Continuing Story (in 2000)
Megan Follows on working with Jonathan and Schuyler
Anne and Gilbert's bridge On his big break
Sound files from Anne of Avonlea

Anyone wishing to cry-watch at this time will likely have to obtain it on DVD.
posted by St. Hubbins (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
On a personal note:
The two original Anne miniseries, recorded during a PBS pledge drive, were about 2/3 of our meager video supply while we were growing up. (Also: the Hallmark Hall of Fame version of the Secret Garden, Trail of the Pink Panther, and a misappropriated Michael Jordan: Come Fly With Me video that came with someone's SI subscription.)

Jonathan Crombie was not just my first onscreen love but the one I fell in love with over and over again, from the first "Carrots!" to the diamond sunbursts and marble halls.

So when my brother told me today that "Gilbert died," all I could say was, "No he didn't! Don't you remember? The hired man walks by whistling! Gilbert's fever breaks! He strolls down the lane all recovered with his hair combed nicely! They stand on the bridge! He called off the wedding! They finally, FINALLY make it happen!"

Anne: "I don't want any of it to change. I wish I could just hold on to those days forever. I have a feeling things will never be the same again, will they?"
posted by St. Hubbins at 7:19 PM on April 18, 2015 [21 favorites]

I'm devastated. Anne of Green Gables was the first novel I stayed up overnight to finish, hiding it under the covers at age 10. I've had the VHS and then DVD copies which I still watch at least once a year. Gilbert Blythe was absolutely my first literary crush. Sigh.

posted by TwoStride at 7:20 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by Cash4Lead at 7:23 PM on April 18, 2015

I think that maybe when people you were in love with as a preteen/teen (and who are only 10 years older than you) start dying is when you truly realize how close to middle age you actually are.

I'm not ready to admit that I'm actually middle-aged yet. My grandma is 92 and still alive and texting and using an iPhone and driving her car every day, okay. I am not middle aged. I have like 8 years left at LEAST! MY BIRTHDAY IS TUESDAY. IT'S TOO CLOSE TO HOME. TOO CLOSE. AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.


posted by elsietheeel at 7:27 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

Lionel Train!

posted by allthinky at 7:33 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've never been into Anne of Green Gables, but David Crombie has been one of Toronto's better citizens, and a universally-respected elder statesmen of local politics. He must be devastated.
posted by dry white toast at 7:34 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:38 PM on April 18, 2015

I never watched Green Gables or anything else Jonathan Crombie did, but my heart breaks for Toronto's "Tiny Perfect Mayor" David Crombie. How awful.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:40 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

That's so sad. As kids we watched the hell out of Anne of Green Gables and I got wrangled into portraying Gilbert in my sister's AoGG re-enactments/cosplay (I still think it was mostly just an excuse to whack me with a piece of chalkboard).

I didn't hear the cause at first and assumed it was suicide. Now hearing it was brain hemorrhage, my stupid brain is making slate to the head/delayed injury jokes.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2015


But seriously, AoGG the Sequel was a travesty. Plenty of good source material, but let's just write a totally different ending. What is this, anime?
posted by rikschell at 7:53 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

To kindred spirits and bosom friends. And also carrots.

posted by ChuraChura at 8:00 PM on April 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

I hope if there's an afterlife of some sort, Crombie's involves "diamond sunbursts and marble halls."

Also it's very unsettling that one of my pre-teen heartthrobs has died.
posted by brina at 8:00 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by wiskunde at 8:03 PM on April 18, 2015

I hear you, brina.. Gilbert was one of my early TV crushes, too. And then I used to run home after school to watch Road to Avonlea, which kept me going between repeats of the Anne movies. My friend and I were a little too old to be running around the local lighthouse playing Felicity and Sara, but we did it anyway. This one hits me really hard
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:27 PM on April 18, 2015

posted by thivaia at 8:46 PM on April 18, 2015

I had tears in my eyes when I was reading this post, and then I read brina's comment... and the tears left my eyes and streaked down my face. I lived and breathed Anne of Green Gables growing up, and the wonderful movies were part of that. I'm so grateful for Jonathan Crombie's life and for the warm, funny, heartfelt world L.M. Montgomery created.

posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 9:10 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I tried to make a post about this earlier but I just couldn't come up with anything that adequately expressed what my inner 10 year old is feeling about this. My outer grown up is also pretty sad because his sister made it clear that he was a pretty great guy.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:38 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

His work in Slings and Arrows was masterful, had no connection to Anne, but Lionel was astonishing
posted by PinkMoose at 10:40 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was super sad when I heard the news today. Oh, Gilbert Blythe. 48 is way too young. I received the novel Anne of Green Gables for my 10th birthday and read it obsessively multiple times. My mom and I were SO excited when the TV miniseries premiered! And Anne and Gilbert were, if not exactly as I had pictured them, pretty darned close.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:24 PM on April 18, 2015

This is too depressing. As a friend said when I told her, "This isn't right. We've barely gotten over Matthew's death. How can Gilbert die?"
posted by bardophile at 6:49 AM on April 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

When I was 8 years old, I was red headed and freckly (still true), with too much imagination and far too little common sense (mostly still true, at least in the case of the latter), and a wild and consuming love of books and words and worlds other than my own (absolutely still true).
I received a copy of Anne of Green Gables for Christmas that year, and to say that I was enamoured would be an understatement. I was breathless, utterly enthralled. This was me! In a book! And it was wonderful. It is a cliche, but it is also completely true, to say that that book changed my life.

I tore through every book in the series that year, and the next Christmas, I received a copy (on two VHS tapes!) of the miniseries.
And there was Gilbert. And he was perfect. Not as I had pictured him, exactly (because at 8 years old, having never had so much as a crush, the notion of a handsome young boy just doesn't hold a lot of imaginative weight), but he was somehow exactly as I knew Gilbert to be: warm, shy behind his boyish bravado, sweet and funny and forgiving, and so wonderfully loyal and kind. Seeing Crombie's Gilbert, and watching his lovely chemistry with the wonderful Megan Follows, I suddenly understood (as much as an immature and bookish 9 year old can) what all this lovey-dovey romance stuff was, and could be.

Crombie's Gilbert was my first crush, and my abiding childhood love, and I am absolutely in the depths of despair. "My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes".

I'll miss you, Gil.

Thanks for being a part of my childhood, Jonathan.

posted by Dorinda at 7:09 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I didn't grow up with Anne & Gilbert--somehow the books were out of print or not available during my childhood. So I read them in or after college, in the early 80s. But I thought they were lovely, and the miniseries was wonderful, with such a marvelous cast.

So sad, his family must be devastated.
posted by suelac at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2015

He was one of the first actors I ever looked up when I first got the hang of internet search. I remember coming across a review of his theatre work that was glowing.

posted by Gin and Broadband at 8:15 AM on April 19, 2015

I'm a Canadian child of the eighties with two older sisters, so Anne of Green Gables got near constant rotation on the VCR.

Weirdly, I just watched The Dead Zone yesterday, which features Colleen Dewhurst (Marilla) and Jackie Burroughs (Aunt Hetty), and got to considering a rewatch of the entire CBC LMM canon -- perhaps an odd response to a David Cronenberg adaptation of a Stephen King novel, but there you go. I guess I'll go do that now.

posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Last night I was at a birthday gathering and we were talking about CBC family hour and somehow got to talking about Anne Of Green Gables.

Someone said that an actor from AOGG had just died. I looked at him and said "Not Gilbert. This is very important." while another lady said "Not Jonathan Crombie!".

It was sad. He was probably my first tv crush. I regret it not a pinch.

posted by right_then at 11:37 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I had a feeling Metafilter would come through with a Jonathan Crombie memorial post.

Being a redhead (and endlessly poked fun of for it) and a misfit, I identified big time with Anne Shirley. I wanted my own Gilbert swoon-worthy!

posted by medeine at 2:07 PM on April 19, 2015

posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 7:57 PM on April 19, 2015

posted by Lina Lamont at 8:56 PM on April 19, 2015

posted by Jubey at 4:06 AM on April 20, 2015

Awwww, so true: The New Yorker on Why We Loved Gilbert Blythe.
posted by TwoStride at 3:15 PM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

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