Canadian actor Keith Knight dies at 51

Keith Knight, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native who had a 30-year career on stage, film and television, has died. He was 51.

Keith Knight, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native who had a 30-year career on stage, film and television, has died. He was 51.

He died Wednesday night at his home in Toronto of brain cancer.

Knight wasbest known for his role as counsellor-in-training Larry Finklestein in the film Meatballs, and in recent years had donevoice work on animated shows such as Blazing Dragons and Franklin.

He also appearedat the Shaw Festival and was playing in summer stock at the Blyth Festival when he was recruited into his first film role on Meatballs.

Meatballs is the 1979 Canadian comedy that cast Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Murray in his first starring role.

Budgeted at $1.6 million and shot in Haliburton, Ont., it earned more than $25 million in the first six weeks of its release, making it, at the time, the top-grossing Canadian film of all time.

Knight ate more than 100 hot dogs during filming of a hot dog-eating contest in the film.

He had appeared in dozens of community theatre productions in his hometown in the mid- to late-1970sbefore launching his professional career in 1978.

Knight performed at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., in the early 1980s in Cyrano de Bergerac, The Music Cure andToo True to Be Good.

Knight's other film credits include Looking for Angelina, Owning Mahowny, My Bloody Valentine, Hog Wild, Gas and Class of 1984.

He appeared as defence attorney Uriah McFadden in Platinum Image Film's production of Looking for Angelina in 2004. That film, shot in Sault Ste. Marie, was released on DVD last fall.

"He brought a lot of choices and interpretations to the character," said Sergio Navarretta, director of the film.

"He was very much a team player. He was very accommodating and willing to take on the challenge of shooting it live in sequence and working through those gruelling days."

In the 1981 feature Gas, Knight appeared alongside Howie Mandel and Donald Sutherland.

His television credits included roles in Queer as Folk, The Littlest Hobo, Road to Avonlea, Seeing Things and Street Legal.

He appeared in more than 160 television commercials.

In latter years, Knight switched to voice work in animated shows, including The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Ace Ventura and Rupert the Bear.

Knight is survived by his wife, Jennifer McCullough.