In Honor of Jonathan Crombie

Canadian actor Jonathan Crombie died of a brain hemorrhage last week. He was forty-eight years old.


When I shared the obituary on my Facebook, I was surprised by how many people responded. Until then, I had no idea how many of my friends would recognize him as Gilbert Blythe.


I once had a friend tell me that he would do the Gilbert Blythe clap, complete with head bob, if I recited “The Highwayman” at a campus event. Sadly, I was unable to attend.

Let’s get something straight here: Gilbert Blythe is, in so many ways, the perfect fictional man. He trounces your Darcys, Edwards, and even Augustus Waters. He’s funny, sweet, smart, dashing, handsome, chivalrous, a hard worker–and just a touch heroic. He’s also stubborn, a trait that real-life Annes (like me!) would benefit from. It’s lucky that there’s no way to bring fictional characters to life, or there would be dozens of carbon-copy Gilberts walking around, leaving the real men with no choice but to read a book in order to find their ideal woman.


“Fishing… for lake trout.” If you didn’t grow up wanting a moment like this in your life, you’re lying.

But that’s just it. We don’t need magic or a machine or any way of bringing Gilbert to life. We had Crombie. He was my Gilbert before I could even read, when I was more like the child Anne–with her imagination and mirror friends and talking entirely too much with words entirely too large–than I care to admit. Megan Follows and I shared the role of Anne, but Crombie was always Gilbert.


That face though.

So here’s to a life cut much too short; one that touched the hearts of so many. Goodbye, Jonathan Crombie. Goodbye, Gilbert Blythe.


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