Janet Wright, Actress in 'McCabe and Mrs. Miller' and 'Corner Gas,' Dies at 71

Janet Wright -Publicity-H 2016
Courtesy of CTV

The popular Canadian stage and screen star also appeared on such classic TV series as 'The Beachcombers' and 'King of Kensington.'

Janet Wright, the actress best known to Canadians as the long-suffering matriarch Emma Leroy on the WGN America comedy Corner Gas, has died. She was 71.

Canadian broadcaster CTV, which developed and aired the long-running Corner Gas sitcom in Canada, confirmed Wright's death to the Hollywood Reporter. No cause of death was given, but Wright had been ill for some time before she passed away on Monday morning in Vancouver.

"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,” Brent Butt, creator and executive producer of Corner Gas, a comedy about a host of oddball rubes at a gas station in fictional Dog River, Saskatchewan, said Monday in a statement.

Born in England on March 8, 1945, Wright moved as a child along with her family to Canada, where they first settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her early credits included small roles in Robert Altman's 1971 drama McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Sidney Lumet's The Wiz (1978).

After playing Miss Mervin in the 1974 Canadian indie comedy Wolfpen Principle, Wright appeared in a slew of popular Canadian TV shows including King of Kensington, The Beachcombers, Danger Bay, Street Legal and Due South.

She also performed in many stage productions, including for the Vancouver Arts Club Theater, the Stratford Festival and the Persephone Theater In Saskatoon, which she co-founded in 1974.

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

Wright's other movie credits included John McTiernan's Rollerball and Wolfgang Petersen's The Perfect Storm.