HALIFAX – John Dunsworth, known for his portrayal of Jim Lahey in the comedy series “Trailer Park Boys” and revered as a brilliant actor with a warm heart, has died at the age of 71.
The news was confirmed in a statement posted on his Twitter feed Monday evening.
“With heavy and broken hearts the family of John F. Dunsworth would like to let people know that our amazing husband, father and grandfather John Dunsworth has passed away,” the statement said.
“John left this world peacefully after a short and unexpected illness. The family would like to request that our privacy is respected during this time of grief.”
Dunsworth’s daughter Sarah, who is also a star of the “Trailer Park Boys,” shared the same statement on her own Twitter feed.
Dunsworth, originally from Bridgewater, N.S., is known for his portrayal of Mr. Lahey on the “Trailer Park Boys,” a frequently drunk former police officer turned trailer park supervisor.
He was also involved in community theatre for decades.
A post on the “Trailer Park Boys” Facebook page Monday evening said: “We’re all in shock and heartbroken by the sudden loss of our dear friend.”
Condolences for the beloved actor were pouring in on social media, including several from his fellow “Trailer Park Boys” cast members.
Mike Smith, known as Bubbles on the “Trailer Park Boys,” tweeted that he is “beyond devastated.”
“John was a beautiful guy. Brilliant and fascinating. I am forever grateful for having known him. RIP my friend,” Smith said.
Jonathan Torrens, who played J-Roc on the series, said on Twitter that “Dunsworth was all our father on set yet the biggest kid at heart” and that he was “curious, mischievous and spirited.”
Series co-star Lucy DeCoutere described Dunsworth on Twitter as a “word scrambler, craftsman, surrogate dad, mischievous and forever curious. He made me try harder, dig deeper,” she added.
Actor Bernard Robichaud, who portrays Cyrus on the show, called Dunsworth a Canadian icon.
“My theatre teacher, a loving father, husband, and a friend to many, you will be greatly missed,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Trailer Park Boys” director Mike Clattenburg said via Instagram that it is “sad news” to lose Dunsworth.
“His wild passion for acting was matched by his love of life and family. One of Canada’s greatest.”
Members of legendary Canadian rock band Rush, who appeared as guest stars on the show, posted a message on Twitter saying it was “heartbreaking” to hear of Dunsworth’s death.
“He was truly a great actor and sweet man — kind and considerate of all those around him.”
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson added, “My sincere condolences to Sarah and family.”
American comedian Tom Arnold also expressed his sympathies, writing on Twitter: “So sad. RIP John Dunsworth. One of the finest men and most brilliant actors I’ve ever had the honour to work with.”
Fans were recalling some of his most notorious moments on the “Trailer Park Boys,” including when Mr. Lahey declared: “I am the liquor.”
Dunsworth was also known for playing reporter Dave Teagues on the supernatural drama series, “Haven.”