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OTRC: August Schellenberg dies: 'Free Willy' actor was 77, battled cancer

August Schellenberg attends the premiere of the HBO film 'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee' in New York on May 23, 2007. (Marion Curtis / Startraksphoto.com)

August Schellenberg, who played Randolph in the "Free Willy" films, has died at age 77 following a battle with lung cancer.

The actor died in his home in Dallas, surrounded by his family, on Thursday, his agent told the Associated Press on Friday.

Schellenberg played Randolph Johnson in three "Free Willy" films between 1993 and 1997. His character initially helps Jesse, played by Jason James Richter, free a killer whale named Willy from captivity.

UPDATE: After learning about Schellenberg's death, Richter tweeted: "No words to describe how sad I am about losing Augie, a one of a kind soul. I'm grateful I knew him. RIP."

Schellenberg also appeared in the 2005 movie "The New World," which starred Christian Bale and Colin Farrell. Schellenberg was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for the 2007 HBO film "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."

His agent described Schellenberg, a father of three daughters, as a loving family man and an iconic Canadian actor, citing one of his final roles -- the lead in in a Canadian production of Shakespeare's "King Lear" in Ottawa in 2012.

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