Roger Abbott honoured by friends, fans

Colleagues, comics and fans alike shared memories of Roger Abbott on Monday following the weekend death of the co-creator of CBC's Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Co-creator of Royal Canadian Air Farce died at 64 after leukemia battle

Colleagues, comics and fans alike shared memories of Roger Abbott on Monday following the weekend death of the co-creator of CBC's  Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Abbott, 64, died in a Toronto hospital on Saturday after battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia for 14 years.

"He was my best friend. We've known each other for 51 years. We were creative partners for more than 40. We did so much together over our lifetime," an emotional Don Ferguson, his co-creator, told CBC News on Monday morning.

"I was so happy to be there with him when he slipped away. My last words to him were, 'Good night, sweet prince.'"

Ferguson, who described Abbott as his best friend since age 13, said the late comedian didn't want to publicize his illness.

"Roger didn't want people looking at him through a filter.... He didn't want people treating him differently. He didn't want to impose on people," Ferguson said.

Their enduring comedic partnership was "kismet," he added.

"We were on the same wavelength. One of us could speak for the other. If somebody needed an answer to a question ... you could ask Roger or me, you'd get the same answer."

Ottawa tribute

To honour Abbott’s "wonderful contribution to the artistic life of the country," the National Arts Centre in Ottawa had its flag at half-mast on Monday. He was a frequent visitor to the NAC, including in 1998 when he received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement in broadcasting at the cultural venue.

"Roger Abbott made the country laugh through countless election campaigns. We will miss his wit and sense of the ridiculous as Canada enters its 41st election campaign this spring," NAC president and CEO Peter Herrndorf said in a statement.

Luba Goy, another Air Farce alumni, recalled Abbott's charitable side, including his support of groups such as Easter Seals.

"Roger was such a sweetie. He was such a generous soul," she told CBC late Monday morning.

"He just was such a humanitarian. He never judged people; he just accepted them as they were. He loved life. He was a consummate optimist."

She noted that since Abbott's death was announced, the Air Farce team had received an outpouring of love from the show's fans. The political satire began on CBC Radio in 1973 and moved to CBC-TV, where it ended in 2008.

Comedian Shaun Majumder of CBC-TV's This Hour has 22 Minutes, hailed Abbott as a national icon.

"His impact on Canadian television, radio and comedy in general is so huge, it's so massive and so rooted in Canadian culture, that his life will be celebrated for a very, very long time."

CBC will air Royal Canadian Air Farce Special: A Tribute To Roger Abbott, a TV special that highlights some of his most memorable moments, on Tuesday night.

With files from The Canadian Press