This article has been updated since it was originally posted.
TORONTO — Veteran Canadian actor Walter Massey died Monday, only two weeks shy of his 86th birthday.
He passed away in a Montreal hospital after an undisclosed illness.
A cousin of Toronto-born Hollywood star Raymond Massey (who died in 1983 at 86), Walter Massey was a founding member of Canadian Actors’ Equity and worked in theatre, television and movies for six decades.
Massey provided the voice of Principal Herbert Haney on the animated TV series Arthur since 1996 and was well known for playing Dr. Donald Stewart on the ’90s series Lassie.
“Walter was a very special and kind person,” said Don Jordan, an actor and president of the Montreal chapter of ACTRA, the union representing performers.
“He was a storyteller. He loved to tell stories.”
Jordan said Massey had been ill for some time but his death is “still quite a shock.”
Born Aug. 19, 1928 in Toronto, Massey studied at the Professional Broadway Workshops in New York and went on to work in more than 50 films and TV shows and in over 70 plays in the U.S. and Canada.
He appeared as Brutus in a production of Julius Ceasar in New York’s Summer Shakespeare in the Park and starred opposite Charlton Heston and John Forsyth in a Broadway production of Mister Roberts.
Massey’s Canadian theatre credits include a production of Blood Relations at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
In 2007, Massey received a lifetime achievement award from the Montreal branch of the ACTRA.
Tributes to Massey are pouring in on social media.
Montreal actor Larry Day recalled meeting Massey on the set of the ’70s series Family Court on CFCF. “A truly talented actor and wonderful man,” wrote Day. “He will be greatly missed but never forgotten.”
Fellow actor Chris Barillaro recalled: “Walter was always so supportive and sweet — a true gentleman!”
Actress Pauline Little, who has known Massey for 30 years, wrote on Facebook: “ His warm smile and great bear hugs will be missed.”
Massey leaves behind wife Sharman Yarnell.