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TORONTO – Tributes continue to pour in from around Canada for former TV comedy writer/producer Joe Bodolai, who died of an apparent suicide on Boxing Day at age 63 years.
Many visited the Ohio-born Bodolai’s Facebook page to react with shock and sadness, and to recall how he championed their early careers when he worked in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s.
“Your approval meant something to me as a performer. It was validation and it was given generously. Thank you for creating work for us! I am sorry this business brought you down. You were respected by many,” Canadian actress Ellie Harvie (The New Adams Family) wrote.
“I am too sad to even put anything to words. Joe, I will miss you terribly!” veteran TV producer David N. Rosen (The Ron James Show) added in his own comment on news of Bodolai apparently taking his own life – the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office reportedly found separate bottles of Gatorade and antifreeze in a Los Angeles hotel room after cleaning staff first discovered his body.
Canadian show-runners whose careers were launched by Bodolai led the industry tributes.
“Joe Bodolai was HUGELY instrumental in careers of so many of us young unknowns. Producing, writing, supporting, fighting for us. #RIP Joe,” Brett Butt (Corner Gas, Hiccups) wrote on his Twitter account.
Bodolai was also remembered as an American who helped build a Canadian TV industry as a personal mission, when so many Canadians go south in search of work and fame.
“Joe Bodolai did the most fantastic switcheroo in being an American infiltrating Canada and offering those words of encouragement, appreciating what it took to do what you did, building people up and establishing an awareness and respect of what Canada was sitting on,” comic Anna Gustafon said on her blogsite.
“He was supremely troubled that he wasn’t able to do more and this industry lost something massive when he moved back to the states,” she added, in reference to a regret-filled December 23 blog by Bodolai, which some are interpreting as a suicide note.
Many who kept in touch with Bodolai after he left Canada were not entirely surprised by his sudden death.
“He was a pretty unhappy guy, and I think he was a victim of the ageism in the comedy business and show business, especially in Los Angeles,” Mark Breslin, who runs the Yuk Yuk’s chain of comedy clubs here, told the Globe and Mail newspaper.
“You have a man who’s really talented at something and then he’s given nothing to do. That can only be the start of something bad,” Breslin added.
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