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Babz Chula

Beloved Vancouver actor Babz Chula has died after an eight-year battle with cancer. She was 63.

The Genie- Leo- and Jessie Award-winning actor died Friday at her Vancouver home, surrounded by her husband, cinematographer Larry Lynn; her three children and other family and friends.

"It was a beautiful, sunny morning," says her friend and colleague Ben Ratner. "The sunlight streaming in the window and the curtains blowing in the breeze and Van Morrison was always Babz' favourite and [his]song Into The Mystic was playing. Just as soon as that song started playing, she took her last breath and let herself go. ... So it was very, very peaceful. After eight years of ... so much difficulty it was just a great, great comfort to see her go so peacefully."

Born Barbara Zuckerman in Springfield, Massachusetts, Chula grew up in Los Angeles and moved to British Columbia in 1971. She had three children, two stepchildren and four grandchildren.

Chula had dozens of roles in film, made-for-TV movies and elevision series. She was known not just for her talent as an actor, but for her warmth and engagement on set. "In her whole career in the film business she'd treat a production assistant with as much respect as she'd treat an executive producer," says Ratner, who ran the Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society, which raised money for her cancer treatment.

In 2002, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2005, she was diagnosed with an unrelated blood cancer, but continued work.

Among the big names to rally to her cause over the years was X-Files star David Duchovny, who in 2008 offered himself up as a dinner companion on e-Bay, to help raise funds for her treatment.

Chula's final role was in Carl Bessai's film Fathers and Sons, which Bessai has just completed. "She was an actor's actor, a director's actor," he says. She was a person who loved the creative process; not just reading lines from a script, but creating. And I thought that was awesome; she was inspiring that way."

A memorial is planned for May 23 at the Granville Island Arts Club Theatre.