Beloved Canadian actor Denis Simpson passes away

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Beloved Vancouver-based actor and singer Denis Simpson died suddenly today, two weeks shy of his 60th birthday. According to Bill Millerd, artistic managing director of the Arts Club Theatre Company, Simpson suffered a brain hemorrhage and passed away this morning surrounded by family in Toronto, where he was about to start rehearsals for A Year With Frog and Toad with the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People.

The original bass singer of the a cappella group the Nylons, Simpson was a long-time host of the children’s television series Polka Dot Door, later hosting a cooking show on Channel M and appearing as the Live Eye Guy for City TV.

He received a Jessie Award for his 1996 one-man show Denis Anyone? and directed the critically acclaimed 2009 Fringe show NGGRFG starring Berend McKenzie. Simpson was active in charitable work, in particular with HIV/AIDS organizations. His most recent Vancouver performance was this past May to July with the Arts Club Theatre in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

“He first performed for us in Ain’t Misbehavin’ in the late 1980s at the Revue Stage, and he was just electric,” Millerd recalled. “He would just take the audience into his embrace. Really, that was his personality. He embraced people and was one of those just very open, honest, performers....He was just one of those dynamic forces that suddenly are gone.”

Millerd added: “You know how people always say 'Have a nice day'? He’s the kind of person that would say it and mean it. He would look at you with his eyes and he had a big smile and you felt good. You just felt better for knowing him as a person. There was nothing dishonest about him....He just had a tremendous amount of grace.”

Millerd said the Arts Club is waiting for guidance from Simpson’s family and close friends before organizing a memorial.

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James3D

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:29pm

Its hard to accept this sad news. We crossed paths two weeks ago and as always Denis was his usual, wonderful, uplifting self. We will miss you lighting up everyone with your smile and generous spirit Denis. You made this world a better place.

Mark Tibando

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:31pm

Working on Shows with Denis in them is among the fondest memories I have of working in theatre. He was simply one beautiful human being!

Ian Boothby

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:32pm

A kind, funny and incredibly talented man. He made things so much better by being here. I'm sad but so glad to have met and worked with him. Inspiring, joyful, a genuinely good guy. We were lucky to have had the time with him that we did. Thanks Denis.

9 10 Rating: -1

Kim Barsanti

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:41pm

Rest in Peace my friend. The laughter and joy that you brought to so very many will be remembered with fondness and a profound sadness.

15 9 Rating: +6

Camyar Chai

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:47pm

My encounters with Dennis were far in between but his positive and beautiful spirit have made a profound impact. God Speed you beautiful man ...

Kim Barsanti

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:51pm

Rest in Peace my friend. Thank you for all you have given to this world. Your laughter and joy will be remembered by so very many with huge fondness and a profound sadness.

7 14 Rating: -7

Jen Allard

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:55pm

My children loved Denis and Polkadot Door and have grown up loving music of all kinds. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us. Our condolences to his family at this time of sadness and grief. God bless you.

Bob Sung

Oct 22, 2010 at 3:56pm

Saddened to hear of Dennis's passing.
Throughout the years, I've met Dennis and was pleased to have worked with him on numerous occasions. Always a good word, alway a sincere way about him. He will be truly missed

Rand Webber

Oct 22, 2010 at 4:05pm

My family and I are devastated at this sad news. We will miss Denis terribly, and cherish our memories of him always. Our hearts go out to all his family and friends.

John Wright

Oct 22, 2010 at 4:07pm

A beautiful human; an incredible loss. I am at a loss for words. Rest peacefully Denis.

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