Actor who starred in Guy Maddin films passes away

Actor and comedian Michael Gottli has died at the age of 49. Gottli was a collaborator with Guy Maddin and appeared in groundbreaking films such as Tales from the Gimli Hospital and Archangel.

Michael Gottli dies at the age of 49

Michael Gottli played the role of Gunnar in the 1998 film Tales from the Gimli Hospital.

Actor and comedian Michael Gottli has died of cancer at the age of 49. Gottli was a collaborator with Guy Maddin and starred in groundbreaking films such as Tales from the Gimli Hospital and Archangel

He also appeared in TV shows such as The Challengers, Kids in the Hall and Maniac Mansion among others, and did a number of commercials, including the famous ad for Coffee Crisp ("How do you like your coffee? Crisp!").

Comedian and writer Bruce Clark, now living in California, was a friend of Gottli. He said Gottli was like a big clown, like a Jackie Gleason-type character.

"He was a big, big man and he had a big heart," he said. "He was one of those guys who as soon as he took the stage he was funny."

Off stage, Clark described him as "a kind, lovable big bear of a man. He was a lot of fun to be around because he was actually just as funny or funnier off stage than he was on."

Gottli grew up in Winnipeg and developed his acting chops with Black Hole Theatre at the University of Manitoba. That's where he also became interested in writing and stand-up comedy and went on to appear in a number of Fringe Festival productions.

He then joined the Yuk Yuk's comedy circuit, criss-crossing the country. It was on one of his tours in Northwestern Ontario in 1994 that the car he was driving struck a moose that left him with brain damage and confined to a wheelchair.

He spent the rest of his days in a care home where he apparently continued to share his gifts, entertaining staff and visitors.

Clark feels Gottli's true talent lay in his ability to act, and feels Maddin would have engaged him to do more films if he had been able.

"He was really an interesting performer and an interesting actor," he said. "He did it all - he did theatre, he did film, TV, commercials. It was cut short. He really could have done much more."