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Tuesday December 6th, 2022 11:30PM

Actor in cult favorite 'American Movie' dead at 56

By The Associated Press
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Musician Mike Schank, best known for his good guy role in the award-winning documentary film “American Movie," has died at age 56, according to a close friend.

Jackie Bogenberger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Schank had been battling cancer in recent months. He died on Thursday.

“It spread quickly everywhere throughout his body in a matter of weeks, touching almost everything except his brain,” Bogenberger said. “He did some chemo and radiation. One of the last things Mike said to me was, ‘Hey Jackie, I feel really bad for children who have cancer. They should never have to.’”

“American Movie” won best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and became a cult favorite over the years. It gave Schank several opportunities, including a role in the 2001 film “Storytelling” and a voice cameo as himself on the animated sitcom “Family Guy.”

The 1999 documentary chronicles the making of the short horror film “Coven” by independent filmmaker Mark Borchart. Schank was Borchart’s best friend, helped him film “Coven,” and was a prominent part of the movie, including composing its music.

Schank's quiet humor and his honesty about his struggles with alcoholism and gambling addiction made him a fan favorite. Among Schank’s most memorable moments in “American Movie” was a bloodcurdling scream he recorded for “Coven.”

Bogenberger said that throughout his battles with addiction and cancer, Schank remained “one of the most kind and selfless human beings this earth was ever blessed with.”

Friends, family members and others paid tribute on Twitter.

“Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood called Schank a “legend,” adding “Mike Schank forever.” Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted a simple “RIP.” Rainn Wilson, best known for playing Dwight Schrute on “The Office,” tweeted, “This is sad. LOVED this wonderful human.”

Schank’s best friend, Borchardt, simply tweeted: “Stay strong forever, Mike...”.

In August, Schank announced on Twitter that he was 27 years sober.

Roughly three months before Schank’s announcement, he began to tell friends and family that he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, according to Bogenberger.

___

This story was corrected to reflect that Schank died on Thursday, not Wednesday.

  • Associated Categories: Death / Obits News, Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online Movies News
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