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