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Goosebumps Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

"Goosebumps," R.L. Stine's anthology of spooky stories for kids, took the world by storm in the early 1990s. Given the popularity of the books, a live-action adaptation seemed inevitable. A TV special based on "The Haunted Mask" dropped just before Halloween in 1995, and a full-fledged series soon followed. The relatively low word count meant that each book equated to roughly one episode. They weren't always entirely faithful to the source material, but the show did a great job capturing the spirit of the books.

Like most successful anthology shows, "Goosebumps" attracted some notable guest stars. Some were well-known actors (like Adam West, who featured in the two-part episode "Attack of the Mutant"), while others were up-and-coming stars (like Ryan Gosling, who popped up in "Say Cheese and Die"). Sometimes, however, the real standouts were the great character actors who never achieved stardom but charmed us just the same. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us.

From promising youngsters to industry veterans, these are the "Goosebumps" actors you may not know passed away.

Aron Tager (Dr. Shreek)

If you're a fan of creepy anthology shows for kids, you probably know this actor's work, even if you don't know his name. In "Goosebumps," Aron Tager played Dr. Shreek, a piano instructor obsessed with his pupil's hands in the episode "Piano Lessons Can Be Murder." You may also recognize him from his memorable turn as Dr. Vink in several episodes of the original Nickelodeon series "Are You Afraid of the Dark?"

He hammed it up in both roles, but in a way that suited the style of the shows. When most actors chew the scenery, it's offputting, but when Tager did it, it was spellbinding. He didn't just work on children's television, either. This talented character actor showed up in several TV shows and films over the years, including Fox's first "X-Men" movie, the John Cusack rom-com "Serendipity," and the Seann William Scott-led ice hockey comedy "Goon."

Tager died in 2019 at the age of 84.

Patricia Gage (Aunt Dahlia)

"An Old Story" is one of the most bizarre "Goosebumps" entries. It's the tale of two brothers who get sent to stay with their eccentric aunt. During their visit, they begin to feel a little strange. It turns out that their aunt has used magic on them, and they are transforming into old men. Why has she done this? Well, because she intends to sell them to her friends as potential husbands. And, just to make things even weirder, the child actors play their older selves in makeup. The whole thing is pretty surreal.

It might not be the best "Goosebumps" episode, but it's worth watching for Patricia Gage's performance alone: Her Aunt Dahlia is sweet and caring at first, but it soon becomes clear that she's up to no good. Like many character actors, her work was pretty varied. She was in mainstream fare like "The Littlest Hobo" and "As the World Turns," but she also appeared in cult hits like David Cronenberg's "Rabid" and "American Psycho," in which she played Mrs. Wolfe.

Gage died in 2010 at the age of 69.

Harvey Atkin (Mr. Malik)

"Goosebumps" Season 2 episode "Bad Hare Day" is about a boy who wants to be a magician. His classmates are less-than-impressed with his act, so he visits a magic shop looking for some new tricks. The owner of this shop is Mr. Malik, a good-humored man who enjoys pulling pranks on his customers. He's brought to life by Canadian actor Harvey Atkin, who was best known for playing Morty in the Ivan Reitman comedy "Meatballs" and Sgt. Ronald Coleman in "Cagney & Lacey."

Atkin played Coleman in almost 100 episodes of the hit cop show during the 1980s, a memorable decade for the actor. He popped up in several episodes of "The Littlest Hobo" in the early '80s and would later provide the voice of King Koopa in "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!" The Toronto native went on to become a prolific voice actor, reprising the role of King Koopa in several subsequent shows and working on the likes of "Swamp Thing," "The Adventures of Tintin," and "Sailor Moon."

Atkin died of cancer in 2017, his representative confirmed to Variety. He was 74.

Don Francks (Swamp Hermit)

"Goosebumps" stories often feature red herrings, suspicious characters thrown into the mix to distract young readers from the truth. When "The Werewolf of Fever Swamp" was adapted for TV, producers cast the actor and jazz singer Don Francks as their red herring, and it was an inspired choice.

Viewers are led to believe that Francks is the titular werewolf, and he seems to relish in the misdirection. He imbues his hermit character with wild eyes, nervous twitches, and a howl so convincing that you can't help but be fooled. Perhaps this kind of dedication is why he had such a long and successful career as a character actor.

The Canadian plied his trade on shows like "The Wild Wild West," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "Mission: Impossible," and "La Femme Nikita," the first TV adaptation of Luc Besson's hit film. His big screen credits include the cult classics "Heavy Metal," the original "My Bloody Valentine," and the Keanu Reeves action flick "Johnny Mnemonic."

Francks died of cancer in 2016, his agent confirmed (via The Hollywood Reporter). He was 84.

Richard McMillan (Spidey/Mr. Blankenship)

Like Aron Tager (and others on this list), "Goosebumps" guest star Richard McMillan also popped up in "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" Not only did he appear in both shows, but he was in two episodes involving cameras. In the "Goosebumps" episode "Say Cheese and Die," McMillan plays Spidey, the inventor of the magical camera that takes pictures of the future. In the "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" episode "The Tale of the Curious Camera," he plays a photographer who gives a young man an equally strange camera.

"Say Cheese and Die" wasn't his only "Goosebumps" appearance, either: McMillian also portrayed the character Mr. Blankenship in the episode "Teacher's Pet." The Canadian made regular appearances in kids' shows during the '90s, appearing as Lionel Lester in "Avonlea," Biff in the TV movie "Shining Time Station: Queen for a Day," and Ted Tanner in "Eerie Indiana: The Other Dimension." He also worked on some pretty big movies, like David Cronenberg's "M. Butterfly," Roland Emmerich's "The Day After Tomorrow," and Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain," starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.

McMillan died of thyroid cancer in 2017, a friend confirmed (via The Hollywood Reporter). He was 66.

David Hemblen (Major McCall)

R.L. Stine makes the mundane terrifying in "Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes," turning adorable outdoor decorations into something sinister. The episode based on the book makes the little critters even more menacing, reimagining them as vampire-like creatures capable of changing the people they bite into lawn figurines. This is the fate of Major McCall, the neighbor of the protagonists. He's a gruff military man with a bad attitude and a love of gardening, played brilliantly by the veteran character actor David Hemblen.

Hemblen had over a hundred credits to his name when he died in 2020 at the age of 79, including roles in many recognizable films and TV shows. Some of those credits he shares with actors we've already discussed (he was in "Avonlea" and "La Femme Nikita," for example). However, it's his voiceover work that stands out the most. He voiced iconic villains like Shere Khan ("The Jungle Book: The Adventures of Mowgli") and Marvel's Magneto ("X-Men: The Animated Series"), and horror fans will also remember him as the voice of The Vaultkeeper in the kids' anthology show "Tales from the Cryptkeeper."

Kay Tremblay (Mimi)

Glasgow-born actor Kay Tremblay played one of Aunt Dahlia's friends in the aforementioned "Goosebumps" episode "An Old Story." Like her co-star, Patricia Gage, Tremblay's performance makes this weird episode worth sitting through, as she is so good at playing a likable older woman with darkness bubbling just below the surface. This wouldn't be the last time she played such a subtly unnerving character.

In the 1999 Stephen King mini-series "Storm of the Century," Tremblay appeared as the deceased mother of Jeffrey DeMunn's Robbie Beals, an illusion created by a mysterious man. No stranger to genre entertainment, she also had roles in "Friday the 13th: The Series," "TekWar" (based on the William Shatner novels), and "The Hitchhiker." She also provided multiple voices for characters in "X-Men: The Animated Series," and she played the character Marjorie in "Are You Afraid of the Dark?"

Tremblay died in Canada in 2005. She was 91.

Michelle Risi (Becca)

At the end of Season 3's "Teacher's Pet," the words "In Loving Memory of Michelle Risi" appear on the screen. Risi stars as the episode's protagonist, a girl known for telling tall tales. Because of her reputation, nobody believes Becca when she stumbles across a rabbit with the face of a lizard during a woodland field trip. Dismissed by her teacher and classmates, she and her best friend Benjy decide to investigate the strange find themselves. It's a memorable episode, but one tinged with sadness.

Risi died of meningitis at the age of 16, cutting short a promising career. "Goosebumps" wasn't the only big anthology show she appeared in: The up-and-coming Canadian actor played Missy in an episode of "The Wonderful World of Disney." She also had minor roles in the films "Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy" and "54," a New York City-set drama starring Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, and Neve Campbell.

Greg Kramer (George)

"Welcome to Camp Nightmare" is one of those titles that gets the gears of imagination turning. It turns out that this is a nickname (the place is actually called Camp Nightmoon), but it's an accurate one. One of the many spooky things lurking at the camp is a bespectacled bald man named George, who shows up and immediately starts giving the protagonist the creeps. George was portrayed by the playwright, author, and actor Greg Kramer, who was found dead at his home in 2013. "He'd been sick for a very long time: Two bouts with cancer, had a lung removed, he was HIV positive," friend and theater producer Paul Flicker told The Globe and Mail. He was 51.

Kramer played minor roles in films like "300," "The Day After Tomorrow," and the experimental Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There," but was perhaps best known as the voice of Nemo in the long-running animated series "Arthur." He was working on a play about Sherlock Holmes when he died, with Jay Baruchel scheduled to play the famous detective. "You will be missed and I will do my best to pay tribute to your words and the wonderful characters you put on the page," the actor tweeted.

Peter Boretski (Grandpa Eddie)

In the "Goosebumps" Season 2 episode "How to Kill a Monster," step-siblings Gretchen and Clark are sent to stay with grandparents when their newly-hitched folks head off on their honeymoon. Luckily, Grandma Rose and Grandpa Eddie trust them to stay home alone, so they've got the place to themselves — or so they think. What their forgetful grandparents neglect to tell them before heading out for the day is that there's a monster upstairs.

Grandpa Eddie, who shot the monster while hunting and mistakenly believed it to be dead, was played by Peter Boretski. It was one of his last TV roles (the Winnipeg native died in 2001, four years after the episode aired) and among his most memorable. He was also seen in the likes of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits." In terms of feature films, Boretski was best known for his minor roles in David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch" and the Helena Bonham Carter-led drama "Margaret's Museum."

Kirsten Bishop (Mrs. Morris)

Comedy and scares often go hand-in-hand in "Goosebumps" stories, easing the tension for young readers. The two-part adaptation of "One Day at HorrorLand" blends these elements perfectly. Early in the first episode, a severed human head looks at the family who have stumbled across the titular theme park and says: "Stay off the guillotine ride." It's funny, sure, but it's pretty dark for a kids' show. The mother of this family was played by Kirsten Bishop (real name Bishopric), whose acting credits stretch back to the mid-1970s.

The Montreal native made her feature film debut in David Cronenberg's "Shivers" aged just 11 (an octopus wriggles down her throat in one memorable scene). She would go on to appear in TV shows like "Ramona," "Major Dad," "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues," "The West Wing," and "Warehouse 13," among many others. "I've played debutantes and psychos, corrupt cops, zombies, Soviet spies, mermaids, frazzled moms, [and] cartoon lunatics," she once told The Globe and Mail.

Bishop died of cancer in 2014. She was 50.

Wayne Robson (Jimmy O'James)

Slappy the ventriloquist dummy has become something of a mascot for the "Goosebumps" franchise. This may be due, in part, to the incredible original cover for "Night of the Living Dummy." While many of the books had memorable covers, there's something deeply ominous about that grinning, shiny face and those glazed-over eyes. Slappy popped up several times in the "Goosebumps" TV series, including in an episode featuring future "Star Wars" actor Hayden Christensen. In the episode "Bride of the Living Dummy," a ventriloquist named Jimmy O'James discovers Slappy in an alley and uses him to turn his life around as a performer, but he gets more than he bargained for.

Jimmy was played by Wayne Robson, a charismatic actor who wore his vulnerability on his face. He played Sammy Merchant in the psychological thriller "Delores Claiborne," Rennes in "Cube," and the old man in the original "Wrong Turn." He was best known for playing Mike Hamar on "The Red Green Show," a blend of sitcom and sketch show that parodied "Home Improvement."

Robson died in 2011 at the age of 64.