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.