How did Mike Schank die? 'American Movie' documentary star dies at 56

How did Mike Schank die? 'American Movie' documentary star dies at 56
Mike Schank starred in the documentary 'American Movie', which made him a breakout star of the 2000s (YouTube)

Guitarist, actor, and star of the 1999 documentary 'American Movie' Mike Schank died at 56. One of Schank’s friends had confirmed that he “passed away early this morning [Thursday] in his mother’s arms,” according to the Milwaukee Record.

Schank was diagnosed with late stage cancer in June, which he made known to his fans via a post on Facebook. In his post he said, “I’ve been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer recently. It started in my esophagus and spread to my liver and lungs and a bunch of other places in my body. It’s stage 4 and they can’t cure it but they are going to try to get it under control with radiation and chemotherapy.”

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Schank also recently celebrated his 27 year sobriety recently, with a tweet that read, “August 3rd was my 27 years clean and sober birthday”. Schank shined brightly in 'American Movie' where he not only served as an extra, assistant, editing help-in-hand and storyteller, but also as the most faithful friend anyone could ever have in their corner. The movie follows how he stuck on with his friend Director Mark Borchardt who was shooting for the horror film Coven. Schank proved his friendship by sticking on with his friend while his whole crew, comprising of friends and family, fell apart.

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'American Movie' was Schank’s most well-received project and what made him the star he was. The movie won the grand jury prize at Sundance Film Festival. He was shown to be a loyal and laid-back friend as well as an amazingly gifted guitarist in the movie. This documentary turned both Schank and Borchardt into overnight breakouts in the early 2000s. He is also known for his appearance on an episode of the show 'Family Guy', where he played himself. He also featured in the 2001 Todd Solonz film 'Storytelling'.

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Of course, the death of this much-loved man has elicited reactions from many known celebrities- the most heartbreaking one coming from Schank’s ride-or-die Borchardt himself. His tweet was a simple tribute to his friend which read, “Stay strong forever, Mike…” Filmmaker Mark Duplass also shared his condolences on Twitter, with a tweet that reads, “RIP Mike Schank. Watch him in AMERICAN MOVIE and learn how to be a good friend.”

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Filmmaker Edgar Wright, who is known for having directed the film Baby Driver, also shared a sweet story to honor the memory of Mike Schank, talking about aving called Schank after seeing him on the ‘American Movie’ documentary. The tweet reads, “RIP Mike Schank, the sweet funny soul at the heart of the extraordinary doc 'American Movie'.  Me, Simon & Nick were obsessed with it and since they included Mike's home number on the DVD extras, we called him from London one night. If you've never seen it, please do immediately.”

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