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Gilles Latulippe (file photo)

DAVID BOILY/THE CANADIAN PRESS

To many French-Canadians, the loss is on par with the recent deaths of comedians Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. Gilles Latulippe, the 77-year-old comedic actor beloved by Quebeckers, died Tuesday morning of lung cancer.

Mr. Latulippe rose to stardom in the 1960s performing cabaret shows and sketch comedy on television. He created and starred in a number of television shows just as Quebec's home-grown entertainment industry was starting to take off on the new medium. He later founded his own theatre out of his own pocket, which he ran for 33 years, giving a platform for his own sketch comedy and giving many other entertainers a start.

The comedian was beloved for his simplicity and humility. "He was an immense comedic genius, and a good man," said Jean Lapointe, the actor and former senator who was a contemporary of Mr. Latulippe.

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Mr. Latulippe specialized in the pie-in-the-face humour and unsubtle word play often scorned by critics. But it put him firmly in the hearts of several generations of French-speaking people. "The only valid critics are the people in the theatre," Mr. Latulippe said in a 1977 interview.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who grew up watching Mr. Latulippe, announced the city's flags would be lowered to half mast and that the actor will lie in state at city hall.

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