Friday, May 1, 2015

Ode to Gil: Remembering Jonathan Crombie

It's been two weeks, but the absence is still there. There's still a bit of a dark cloud when I think back on favorite books and movies of my adolescence.

Two weeks ago, actor Jonathan Crombie, best known for playing academic foil and love interest Gilbert Blythe in the Canadian Miniseries, Anne of Green Gables, and two of its sequels, passed away. He was 48 years young.

You might be asking me, "Becky, what is this? Celebrity deaths shouldn't have this kind of affect on you, unless they were SUPER famous!" and you'd be wrong to tell me that. Gilbert -- I mean Jonathan -- was special to many people in the world, because of the character he portrayed, and also the kind of person he was. 

Gilbert Blythe was the cocky, handsome popular guy who had his eye on Anne Shirley from the moment they met at a church picnic in the early chapters of the novel, and was one of the few characters in literature who learned his lesson on how to treat people early on. He flirted with Anne at the picnic, and then at school, pulled her hair and called her carrots, hoping to get attention. Attention he got, but not the kind he wanted. He got a slate broken over his head, and saw a temper of which he'd never see again. From that day on, Gil was remorseful, and wanted nothing more than to treat Anne with the respect she knew she deserved.

When I first read these books when I was fifteen (I read all of them in probably two months). I wasn't ready to be thinking of marriage by any means, but you'd better believe that his characteristics (after the hair-pulling slate incident) are something that I still look for in a man, and I feel like they're characteristics that aren't that prevalent anymore.

He was:
  • Intelligent. He and Anne were academic rivals for their entire adolescence, and this rivalry drove them both to be better. 
  • Caring. He gave up a job at the local school so that Anne could stay with her adopted mother, Marilla, who was going blind.
  • Driven. He wants to be a doctor. He could've taken over his father's farm, but I think knowing Anne helped him realize that medicine was the true future for him. 
  • Funny. He helps reign in Anne's melodramatics, and shows her the funny in everyday life. 
  • Keeps it real. When Anne wrote her first novel (and kind of became a laughing stock), he explained to her that most people like stories they can relate to. She was pissed when he told her, but she eventually got it. 
Long story short, he's the kind of respectful guy that every woman should aim high for. I know I do (which probably explains why I'm still single).

Found on Pinterest, but this fits so WELL!
Okay, that's all well and good, but what does this have to do with Jonathan Crombie?

Jonathan did more than play the part of Gilbert on screen four times (Three movies, one episode of the Road to Avonlea series). He embodied this role to the point where I believe he was the kind of man LM Montgomery had in mind when she penned the character of Gilbert Blythe. Plus, he knew the affect his performance had on the fans, and was so happy to talk with them. Many actors WISH they had the lasting appeal that Jonathan had with Gilbert. 

Upon his death, his sister stated that he treasured the role for his entire life. When I found out about it, I honestly felt like I lost a friend. As a writer, you have these ideas of who you want to portray your characters on the chance that they get made into movies. I had a primo spot for him in my Spy Sisters  series. I'll probably continue to use him as a model in my brain as a way of keeping him alive in my mind.

2008 Touring Production of
"The Drowsy Chaperone"
I like to think that we would've been good friends, had we ever gotten to meet. Plus, he was on my list of men I'd like to sing a duet with. Knowing I won't get to sing with him is almost as heartbreaking as knowing I'll never get to meet him. 

It sounds as though he lived a good life, and even better, he made many people happy. He even helped shape an entire generation's idea of love and companionship (or, if he hasn't, he needs to). Google Jonathan Crombie, and read comments people have left upon hearing of his death. It's extremely heartwarming to see how beloved he was to the world.

Also, check out the Buzzfeed Tribute. Heartwarming, and I am not ashamed to say I cried.

Goodbye, Jonathan. Rest in Peace knowing you touched so many lives. 


  1. Love this article you wrote. I feel the same way. His death left an impact on me as well.

    1. Thank you. He'll definitely be missed. <3