Veteran film & tv actor August Schellenberg has passed away at the age of 77 after a long battle with lung cancer. Schellenberg was born on July 25, 1936 in Montreal as a member of the Metis, one of the recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada – of Swiss-German and Mohawk descent. Having grown up in Montreal, he moved to Toronto in 1967 to establish himself in film & tv.
His first film was Rip-Off in 1971. In 1981, he did voices for the animated film Heavy Metal. During the late ’90s he had major roles in Black Robe (as Chomina), Free Willy and its sequels (as Randolph Johnson), Iron Will (Ned Dodd), and TV film Crazy Horse (Sitting Bull). He went on to star as Chief Powhatan in Terrence Malick’s 2005 film The New World, alongside Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Christian Bale. He also had roles in Disney’s Eight Below and the doco within a film The Green Chain (2007). In 2011, he appeared in two episodes of the television series Stargate Universe as Yaozu.
Schellenberg has been nominated for three Genie Awards and has won one (for Black Robe). Also nominated for two Gemini Awards, Schellenberg won one (for the television movie The Prodigal). In 2012, he performed the title role in an all-aboriginal production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He also taught acting during seminars in Toronto. He conducted motivational workshops in schools and for cultural and community organizations across North America.
He died in Dallas, Texas, where he had made his home since the mid 90s with his wife, actress Joan Karasevich. He was father of three daughters, two with Karasevich.
August Schellenberg (July 25, 1936 – August 15, 2013)