John “Frenchie” Berger

The ACTRA Stunt Community has lost one of its greatest treasures in John “Frenchie” Berger. He was a Founder/ Performer/ Supporter and willing Raconteur. Frenchie lived his early life in Southern France under Nazi occupation. His own self-preservation heightened his love of the great outdoors and care for livestock of all sorts.

After emigrating to Canada, John found himself at the Circle M Ranch, a prospering dude ranch and future home of Kleinberg Studios, in Ontario. This place was to become a formative centre of the Canadian film industry with its access to a “backlot” of 300-400 acres of a valley setting that was a dream place for film production. Not only did Frenchie join ACTRA, he also joined the local IATSE crew prop department to take advantage of his weapons handling experience he obtained as part of his military training. The Canadian film industry was in its infant stages back then and, with rapid growth ahead, Frenchie was poised for success. Frenchie was trusted and highly respected by his peers, an inspiration to many whom he mentored to help fulfill their aspirations. His excellence at his stunt craft culminated in an ACTRA Lifetime Achievement Award for Stunts in 2009. In 2016, Frenchie was honoured by ACTRA Toronto with a special stunt pioneer ACTRA Award.

Frenchie was also an expert animal trainer and his beloved dog “Casey” performed in many features and commercials. His favourite Quarter Horse “Chipper” exemplified Frenchies care and love for animals.

Survived by his loving wife Beverley, daughter Stephanie and son Daniel. He will be fondly missed by all who knew and worked with him.

Bon voyage, mon ami.

Bobby Hannah
Victor Knight

Upon settling in Montreal from London, England in 1950, and working in live radio and television at the CBC, Victor Knight became the 142nd member of ACTRA. And so began his dedication and commitment to our union. Victor played an integral role in making things the way they are today. In 1958, he created the ACTRA Montreal Branch becoming Montreal’s first President. The office consisted only of him until he eventually hired his first staff person, Virginia Ryshpan. Her job description was simple: “You are not here to see both sides. You are here to take a position on behalf of your members. ”He worked tirelessly for this union because he cared. So much so that he was a member of the Founding Board of Governors of AFBS and his involvement in ensuring that the lives and careers of ACTRA members were protected, goes back to 1968. He sat on AFBS's scholarship committee for many years. He was also instrumental in the creation of a National ACTRA, starting out as National Vice President and working his way up to National President . Victor’s love and devotion didn’t stop there. In 1970, he co-founded the Professional Theatre Program at Dawson College - The Dome - training hundreds upon hundreds of students to become professional actors during his time there. He was my advisor in my first two years. We argued fiercely but respected and adored each other deeply. He carved the way, determined to teach us what it meant to be a professional actor and for that, we are forever grateful. He was the consummate mentor and beamed with pride whenever he saw any of his Domies doing well in the field. He retired from The Dome on August 5th, 2011. I was so very fortunate to not only have him as my teacher and advisor, he also became my colleague and dear friend with his loving, talented wife, Kathleen Fee, always by his side until the end. To me, he was and always will be, the man with a twinkle in his eye. To our union, he is a legend.

Eleanor Noble
Vice President, ACTRA Montreal
Gino Morrocco

Gino Morrocco started on stage and radio at the age of five. He went professional at age 13, working full-time as a member of ACTRA and Equity. Gino enjoyed a versatile and lengthy career spanning seven decades over which he appeared in over 200 TV and film productions as well as countless radio and TV commercials. Co-founder of Backdoor Theatre, Gino wrote and directed many stage productions and provided a showcase for new and established actors and playwrights for over 20 years. He also taught acting workshops at Ryerson University and Seneca College.

Gino served as President of ACTRA Toronto for 13 years and as ACTRA National President for two years. He served on most ACTRA committees and the Executive for 34 years. Gino was highly respected as a professional but believed his greatest accomplishments were those of a loving husband and caring father and grandfather. I’ll miss you my friend (the older brother I never had) and your wonderful stories about “the early days” and the beginning of live television. You have touched countless lives over the years and will be valued and remembered for a very long time.

Gino passed away on May 10th after a long and courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife Jose, son Adam, daughter Ashley and grandchildren Alyssa, Ava and Layla.

Gerry Mendicino

ACTRA National
625 Church Street, 3rd floor,
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2G1

Phone 1-800-387-3516
(416) 489-1311

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