The Degrassi Junior High star Neil Hope, who played Derek "Wheels" Wheeler on the popular 1980s TV series, died in near-anonymity over four years ago, his family has confirmed after lengthy attempts to track him down.
Hope had little contact with relatives and friends in his final years, and died alone in an Ontario rooming house in 2007, his ex-fiance Christina Boulard said on Friday.
Hope's family spent years trying to track him down after hearing rumours of his death several years ago but only had it confirmed last month by police in Hamilton, Ontario.
Boulard said the former star of Canada's groundbreaking Degrassi series died on 25 November 2007 of "natural causes" at the age of 35 but declined to elaborate, only saying Hope was diabetic.
Boulard, who last saw Hope in 2002, said
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Making Hope’s death public this past week, police confirmed that Hope died of natural causes in Hamilton, Ontario on November 25, 2007. He was 35 at the time of his passing.
While Hope’s brother and sister have said that they heard rumors of his passing 3 years ago, they simple brushed it off, as there had been no official confirmation. After not hearing from Hope for a significant length of time, the family contacted the Hamilton ...
Click to continue reading Rip ‘Degrassi’ Star Neil Hope: Actor’s Death Revealed 5 Years
Hope, who played Wheels in the Canadian teen TV franchise, was 35 when he passed away in 2007 from natural causes, but his relatives chose not to report his death at the time.
They have since confirmed the tragedy and his former fiancee, Christina Boulard, has released a statement explaining, "The family regrets to announce that Neil passed away in Hamilton, Ontario on November 25, 2007 of natural causes.
"There was some confusion regarding his passing that they do not wish to go public with, which is why they are only announcing his death now to the public and the media."
Brogren has taken to his Twitter.com page to acknowledge the reports, writing, "Sad day for Degrassi. Rip Neil."
Meanwhile, Stephen Stohn, an executive producer on the show, also tweeted, "We have respected the privacy of the family by not saying anything until now, but our entire team is very emotional about his passing."
Hope shot to fame in the 1980s on Degrassi Junior High and reprised his role with appearances on Degrassi High, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Degrassi Talks. A memorial is being planned for May.
The death was just revealed today, reported the Toronto Star.
"We were terribly saddened to hear the news," Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler said Thursday in a joint statement with executive producer Stephen Stohn.
"Neil made an important contribution to our lives, to the lives of our television team who are like a family to us and indeed to the lives of the many Canadians and others around the world who were influenced by Neil and the roles he played, starting from the early days of 'The Kids of Degrassi Street.' His life was not an easy one but the time he spent with us was a shining example of determination, hard work and hopeful optimism and he is sorely missed."
"We have respected the privacy of the family by not saying anything until now,
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