From a media release:
The producers and cast of CORNER GAS, CTV, Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company, and Stratford Festival extend its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of distinguished actress and director Janet Wright. Wright passed away this morning in Vancouver at the age of 71.
Janet played the beloved role of ‘Emma’ on CORNER GAS, Canada’s most successful sitcom. In 1974, Wright co-founded the Persephone Theatre In Saskatoon with Brian Richmond and Susan Wright. The first dramaturge at Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company, Wright appeared in and directed more than 40 productions for the company. During her seven seasons at Stratford she shone as a director and in many key roles as an actress. In 2011, Wright returned to Stratford after more than a decade away, giving an unforgettable performance as ‘Ma’ in the acclaimed production of The Grapes of Wrath and portrayed a hilarious ‘Mistress Quickly’ in the The Merry Wives of Windsor. In 2014, Wright reprised her role as ‘Emma’ in CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE, which reached more than 7 million TV viewers in Canada.
“Janet was like no other person I’ve ever met. She had a giant wit, a giant heart, and was one of the strongest human beings to ever stride around this planet,” said Brent Butt, Creator and Executive Producer, CORNER GAS. “She was so great to work with. When you looked at the call sheet in the morning, and saw you were doing scenes with Janet, you knew you’d be laughing that day, and probably at something terribly inappropriate. We had this running thing, where if there was a scene with just our characters, I’d write it at the kitchen table, with our characters eating macaroni and cheese. We were both trying to watch our weight, but she said if “our characters” were eating the stuff, it wasn’t really us. I truly, honestly loved her. We all did.”
“Both direct and loving, Janet was as honest in life as she was with her characters,” said Scott Henderson, Vice-President, Communications, Bell Media. “As the beloved Emma Leroy, Dog River’s frequent voice of reason on CORNER GAS, she entertained millions of Canadians with Emma’s quick wit and no-nonsense approach. We were blessed to have her as a member of the cast. She will be sorely missed by everyone at CTV and in Canada’s acting community.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of actress/director/multi-talented Janet Wright,” said Bill Millerd, Artistic Managing Director, Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company. “She was a powerful actor and inspired director who created intelligent and challenging theatre for our audiences. We will miss her immense talent, her caustic wit, and her incredible strength in facing tragedy. Our love and condolences to the Wright family.”
“Janet was an artist on an uncompromising search for the truth in all its unvarnished beauty,” said Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who directed Ms Wright as Ma Joad in the 2011 production of The Grapes of Wrath. “She was a profoundly talented actress, director and ?champion for the importance of the arts. I will never forget her passion and forever be inspired by her commitment to our work.”
“Janet had a huge heart and an insatiable passion for the arts,” said Alicia Jeffery, Agent with the Characters Agency. “She was a lightning rod for the truth in all her performances and in life and never ceased to mentor younger actors, both as a director and as a fellow performer. Nothing gave her more joy in our many calls than to sing the praises of a young actor or director she’d recently worked with. Her loss is a hole in the fabric of our community that will never be truly mended.”
In honour of Janet’s memory, CTV will rebroadcast CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. ET.
Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company will be hosting a Celebration of Life for Wright, with further details to be released.