It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of another beloved member of the Canadian Theatre Community. Distinguished Canadian actor Al Kozlik died peacefully on January 11th 2011 at the Greater Niagara General Hospital after suffering a stroke. He leaves behind his spouse of 41 years, Scott Sunderland.
Upon making the announcement, Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival
, where Kozlik had been a company member for twenty-eight years, Jackie Maxwell noted: “Al was a most beloved and generous Company Member with an enthusiasm for, and love of, actors and acting that was endlessly infectious. I feel blessed to have witnessed his final performance as “Firs” in The Cherry Orchard
last season, a part he had always wanted to play and which he embodied so beautifully.”
Alvin Earl Kozlik was born on July 7, 1934 in Port Arthur, Ontario, the son of the late Mitchell and Georgina Kozlik. Raised in Welland, Ontario, he arrived at The Shaw in 1980 as a Vancouver Playhouse alumnus at the same time that Christopher Newton became Artistic Director. Reflecting on his long-time association with Mr. Kozlik, Artistic Director Emeritus Christopher Newton said: “I worked with Al for over 45 years. He was a great trooper, he was a great company member and he was one of those people who simply loved to be on the stage. Whether playing a small or large part, they were always alive vibrant and fully realized — Al Kozlik was a consummate company member.”
According to a press release from the Shaw Festival, Kozlik was characterized thus, “A character actor of the highest standing, he appeared in over 40 productions at The Shaw and will be particularly remembered for his appearances in S.S. Tenacity, The Cassilis Engagement, Three Men on a Horse, Detective Story, Getting Married, You Can’t Take It With You, The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles, The Petrified Forest, Cavalcade, Saint Joan, Man and Superman, Geneva, He Who Gets Slapped, Night of January 16th, Camille and The Suicide.”
Mr. Kozlik’s extensive career in the theatre included eight seasons at the Stratford Festival and work across Canada in such theatres as Theatre Free (Hunting Cockroaches and Delicatessen) Dog and Crow for Necessary Angel Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, Tarragon Theatre (One Crack Out), and as the lead in The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon
at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and the Globe Theatre in Regina. Also, according to Jon Kaplan of NOW Magazine,
“Al was also a regular at Theatre Plus Toronto, one of the several actors who followed artistic director Duncan McIntosh from Shaw. He was a memorable Teddy, an engaging if not always reliable storyteller cajoling his listeners, in director Jim Mezon’s version of Faith Healer, and a conniving, suspicious Polonius in Neil Munro’s striking update of Hamlet.”
Mr. Kozlik’s television and film credits include Due South, Kung Fu, The Campbells, Home Fires, Night Heat, Mrs. Soffel, Friday the 13th, The Long Road Home and Dreamspeaker, to name a few.
He is survived by his loving husband of 41 years Scott Sunderland, brother Paul Kozlik, nephews Scott, Todd, Robert, Bradley, Randall, Anthony and Mark and beloved cats Kettles, Angel and Dodger.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Morgan’s Funeral Home in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Viewing visitation and service will take place on Friday, January 21, 2011 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Details and an online guestbook can be found at http://www.morganfuneral.com/