Sean McCann, an award-winning actor known for his role on the Canadian TV series Night Heat, died on Thursday. He was 83.
A prolific character actor, McCann performed in hundreds of productions, ranging from a Canadian politician in The King Chronicle (1988) to an animated bear in TV series Little Bear (1995-2003).
He was also known for his roles in films such as Tommy Boy (1995), Chicago (2002), Naked Lunch (1991) and Miracle (2004). McCann played supporting roles in films with big names such as Meryl Streep in … First Do No Harm (1997) and Nick Nolte in Affliction (1997).
McCann was born in Windsor, Ont. in 1935, the son of Alta Tobin and Jack McCann, and had seven siblings. He studied to become a priest at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ont. before turning to acting in the 1960s.
In a Star article from 2002, he recalled his early days in theatre, working as the spotlight operator at the Covent Garden Opera House in London, England during a premiere attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. A self-styled mischief-maker, McCann recalled calling out to Prince Philip’s limousine after the show.
“I yelled, ‘Up the republic!’ …(and) before I knew it, I was being frisked and questioned,” he said.
Later in his acting career, he said, his Canadian patriotism led him to turn down some roles in American TV shows and movies.
“They made me an offer … and it’s out the window,” McCann said of a 2002 TV series starring Rob Morrow. “And damn it, I could’ve used the money!”
But he performed in dozens of Canadian films and TV shows, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gemini Award for Best Guest Actor in a Series for Power Play (1998-2000) and the Earle Grey Award for his lifetime achievement in television.
Beyond acting, McCann was also a poet, a political candidate and a baseball scout.
An avid baseball fan since he was young, he began as an amateur associate scout for the Toronto Blue Jays in the late 1990s, and sat on the board of directors for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I’ve got a background in baseball,” he explained to Mississauga.com in 2008. “It (scouting) started as a hobby for me, but I’ve coached baseball in the past.”
A self-described “political junkie” who often sought out the roles of Canadian politicians, like William Lyon Mackenzie King in The King Chronicle, McCann ventured briefly into real-life politics when he ran for the Liberals against Progressive Conservative MPP Roy McMurtry in 1979.
John Dadosky, a professor of theology and philosophy at the University of Toronto’s Regis College, said he developed a friendship with McCann more than 20 years ago due to their common interest in religion.
“He had an insatiable intellectual curiosity for philosophy and theology,” said Dadosky. “This deep interest was something not well known about Sean. I will miss our conversations.”
A funeral mass will be held on Monday at the Blessed Sacrament Parish, 24 Cheritan Ave., in Toronto.
With files from Emma Sandri
Jacob Lorinc is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jacoblorinc