August Schellenberg, who acted in ‘Free Willy’ films, dies at 77


August Schellenberg (CHRIS PIZZELLO/REUTERS)
August 18, 2013

August Schellenberg, a Canadian-born actor who starred in the “Free Willy” films and appeared in numerous television roles, died Aug. 15 at his home in Dallas. He was 77.

The cause was lung cancer, his agent, Jamie Levitt, said.

Mr. Schellenberg played the role of Randolph Johnson, a whale trainer, in the three “Free Willy” movies, which were released in 1993, 1995 and 1997. In 2007, he was nominated for an Emmy as a supporting actor for his role as Sitting Bull in the HBO series “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Mr. Schellenberg’s big-screen work also included an appearance in the film “The New World” (2005), which starred Christian Bale and Colin Farrell.

One of his last notable works was in 2012, when he played the lead role in an all-Canadian cast of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Levitt said.

“I got a call this morning from the NAC saying they have lowered their flags to honor him,” Levitt said. “He was a very well-known Canadian and an iconic actor.”

According to his personal Web site, Mr. Schellenberg taught acting workshops in Toronto at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre and at York University. He was a former boxer who participated in various celebrity charity sporting events and was a motivational speaker in Canada and the United States.

Mr. Schellenberg, who was born in Montreal, was half Mohawk and half Swiss, according to his Web site. Survivors include his wife, actress Joan Karasevich, and three daughters.

— Associated Press

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