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Monday, November 14, 2016

Award-winning 'Corner Gas' star Janet Wright dead at 71

by Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press
Award-winning 'Corner Gas' star Janet Wright dead at 71
Award-winning stage and screen actress Janet Wright, best known for her portrayal of the long-suffering matriarch on "Corner Gas," has died, according to CTV, which aired the long-running sitcom.

Wright played Emma Leroy on the hit Canadian series, which ended its six-season run in 2009 and returned with a big-screen adaptation in 2014.

Wright's character Emma was the wife of Oscar Leroy, played by Eric Peterson, and mother to Brent, portrayed by series creator and star Brent Butt.

Peterson, who had known Wright for 50 years, said she was "an incredibly, wonderfully complex woman of tremendous strength and intelligence and a wonderful actress."

In 2007, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean presented Janet Wright with the Medal of Bravery for her daughter Rachel Davis, at the Bravery Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Wright's daughter got the award for breaking up a gang assault on a teenage boy in Vancouver, B.C., and was killed by a rival gang member's gun in a scuffle that followed the initial fight. (CANADIAN PRESS / Tom Hanson)
In 2007, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean presented Janet Wright with the Medal of Bravery for her daughter Rachel Davis, at the Bravery Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Wright's daughter got the award for breaking up a gang assault on a teenage boy in Vancouver, B.C., and was killed by a rival gang member's gun in a scuffle that followed the initial fight. (CANADIAN PRESS / Tom Hanson)
"She knew a lot about the art of acting and the art of theatre as a director," Peterson said Monday.

"The wonderful thing about her as an actress -- especially in something like 'Corner Gas' -- she brought so much to that part as only Janet could. Even the simplest line, she thoroughly thought it through. She seemed to be able to give a straightforward line that was redolent with meaning. Often my character was the brunt of that redolent meaning too.

"I'm just very sad. We're the same age. One's reminded how short life is."

In a statement, Butt added "Janet was like no other person I've ever met."

"She had a giant wit, a giant heart, and was one of the strongest human beings to ever stride around this planet."

Born in England on March 8, 1945, Wright and her family relocated to Canada and eventually settled in Saskatoon at a young age.

Wright was the co-founder of Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre, and performed at virtually every major theatre company in Canada.

She had been affiliated with the Vancouver Arts Club Theater since the early 1970s, and also directed for many major theatre companies across Canada, including productions at Ontario's Stratford Festival.

"Janet was an artist on an uncompromising search for the truth in all its unvarnished beauty," said Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino, who directed Wright as Ma Joad in the 2011 production of "The Grapes of Wrath."

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