It has been a while since I last wrote about Jaclyn Linetsky, some things being too painful, too hard.
The current contents of the box Jaclyn's father Larry took with him to the base of Mount Everest one year after her death, where Jaclyn's image and memory was blessed by an "incarnation Dalai Lama," who wrapped a holy scarf around this photo.
The talented young actress, who at age 17 had her whole life to look forward to, made shocking headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. Early on the morning of Sept. 8, 2003, she and her co-star on the locally-produced TV series 15 Love, Vadim Schneider, were killed when the driver of their film production van lost control as he was bringing them to the set. Only the driver survived: the teenagers died on impact. They had shot 11 episodes of the series... and had apparently become close enough that love was in the air, until it was snuffed out so suddenly.
I have known Jaclyn’s parents Terry and Larry for decades, and had interviewed the affable teen with the winning smile for a Globe and Mail feature article several years before. Universally beloved up to that tragic day as the English voice of animated character Caillou, Jaclyn was working hard to complete CEGEP while working in the business and then planned to move onto studies at New York’s Julliard School for Performing Arts.
She oozed potential and promise.
When I got the call early that morning, all I could think was “on no... how... why...” The news was a real blur and it has never really made any sense, far less so to her parents, brother and sister and the legions of friends and fans who adored her.
Now, there is an opportunity to remember Jaclyn once again, for a good cause that may put a smile on faces as her memory is utilized to help budding your actors realize the dreams she was unable to complete. On Thursday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m., the Just for Laughs Museum (2111 St. Laurent Blvd.) will teem with life as Westmount’s St. George’s School inaugurates its Jaclyn Linetsky Performing Arts Program. A Night of Stars, the gala fundraiser which the Linetsky family has been actively working on, will also raise the initial funds for the program, which will eventually include a Summer Theatre Camp, scholarship and bursary programs, all geared towards helping young actors realize their love of acting and fulfill their potential.
The evening will feature cocktails and entertainment from the likes of present-day St. George’s student Nikki Yanofsky, Alexandra Cohen, soprano Sharon Azrieli and the On the Spot Improv troupe. “Jaclyn’s passion and commitment for the performing arts and her innate desire to instil her love for the performing arts into others, will live on in the Jaclyn Linetsky Performing Arts Program,” said Larry Linetsky, Jaclyn’s father. “St. George's School provided Jaclyn with a solid education, rich in the arts, and a strong support system that encouraged her talent,” added her mother, Terry. “Our goal is to offer similar opportunities to other students.”
I can’t say I knew Jaclyn very well at all... my loss. For me, she lives on through the many stories Terry has told me. I do know that she would have been tickled pink to be able to help her alma mater’s students strive for success as she did. Causes like these are important, at a time when so many young people are struggling in what has become an increasingly difficult world. For more details on how to donate to the program, as well as to purchase tickets to the event, go to www.anightofstars.com. A tribute website organized by a fan of Jaclyn’s in Italy can be found at www.jaclynlinetsky.com.