Michael Burgess, Canadian 'Les Miserables' Star, Dies at 70

Michael Burgess - H 2015
Courtesy of Enlight Pictures

The tenor and TV actor played Jean Valjean in more than 1,000 Toronto live stage productions.

Canadian actor and singer Michael Burgess died Monday night in Toronto after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

"He was a very talented performer with a spellbinding voice and a truly arresting stage presence," said Toronto theater impresario David Mirvish in a statement. "Canada has lost one of its major artists. He will be sorely missed."

A family friend, Bruce Bowser, told the CBC News website that Burgess died peacefully in a Toronto hospice, with his family at his bedside. Burgess is best known for playing the character Jean Valjean in more than 1,000 live stage productions of Les Miserables at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theater and on the cross-Canada tour.

He was also the first to sing the Canadian anthem "O Canada" at a World Series game, in Atlanta in 1992. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1945, Burgess had Canadian TV credits in homegrown dramas like E.N.G., PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, and Street Legal.