Saturday, 17 August 2013

Remembering August Schellenberg

Canadian actor August Schellenberg, who appeared
in virtually every TV series shot in Canada, died on
August 15. He was 77. He also played the
patriarch in the Canadian TV movie "Striker's Mountain".
Yesterday I heard Canadian actor August Schellenberg died. Most people I think would recognize him, even if they didn't recognize the name.

According to all the tributes, he is praised as being one of the best Native-Canadian actors ever. That description certainly fits, given such roles as Sitting Bull in "Crazy Horse" and "Bury My Heart at Wouned Knee" (for which he was nominated for an Emmy); Cochise in "Geronimo"; Randolph Johnson, Haida keeper of Willy the Orca in "Free Willy"; and the Algonquin Chief Chomina in "Black Robe".

He guest starred in virtually every TV series filmed in Canada from "The New Avengers", "ENG", "Street Legal", "Seeing Things", "Night Heat", and "Adderley", to "Hangin' In", "The Edison Twins", "The Littlest Hobo", "Road to Avonlea", "Friday the 13th", "The Hitchhiker", "Due South", "Lonesome Dove", "Counterstrike", and "North of 60".

He also guest starred in some American primetime series' such as "Grey's Anatomy", "The Equalizer", "Airwolf", and "Walker, Texas Ranger".

Striker's Mountain
However, for me, August Schellenberg's most memorable role is as "Jake Striker" in the Canadian TV movie "Striker's Mountain", for which I devoted a blog post in July.

He plays the patriarch of a family that owns a ski hill that has fallen on hard times, and is under threat from a developer. He is struggling between preserving the only way of life he has known, and trying new things to keep the operation viable, such as heli-skiing.

Schellenberg plays the consummate patriarch, navigating the difficult waters of a parent with grown children who have their own ideas.

August Schellenberg was a prolific actor. I was surprised at the depth and breadth of his work. Quite frankly, I was surprised he was a Native-Canadian actor, because the role of Jake Striker was a non-Native role, and that was the first role I saw him in. Still, it was a powerful and passionate performance, and gave just a hint of the talent he possessed. That talent was evident by the Emmy nomination he received in 2007

The fact he kept on working, right up until his death at age 77, is a testament to that talent and versatility.

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