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Sunday 23 June, 2024
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American Movie’ co-star Mike Schank Dead at 56, Cause of Death

BY Sharmeen Hussain Oct 14, 2022. 11:35 am UPDATED: Oct 14, 2022. 11:35 am

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Mike Schank, a musician from Milwaukee most known for appearing with him in the 1999 documentary American Movie, has passed away. Schank “died away early this morning [Thursday] in his mother’s arms,” a friend confirms to Milwaukee Record. Age-wise, he was 56.

Schank rose to fame in the early 2000s alongside Milwaukee director Mark Borchardt, who was the focus of the movie American Movie. Among his many national media appearances, he portrayed himself in a Family Guy episode from 2006 and was in the Todd Solondz movie Storytelling from 2001. But it was his participation in the Sundance Film Festival-winning, Chris Smith-directed American Movie that cemented Schank’s reputation as a distinctive character, a dependable and easygoing friend, and a gifted guitarist. He was also capable of screaming uncontrollably.

“He was the foundation of the Alano Club and a staple in so many’s recovery,” a friend says. “He provided wisdom, good energy, and was there every single time I personally needed him while somehow being there for countless others as well. He was such a good friend to me.”

In a Facebook post from June of this year, Schank talked about his health: “Recently, I was diagnosed with a rare sort of cancer. My liver, lungs, and a number of other parts of my body were affected when it first appeared in my esophagus. They will try to control it with radiation and chemotherapy even if cancer is stage 4 and incurable.

In recent years, Schank had become a regular on the East Side, strolling the area and saying hello to anybody who passed by (such as this author). Additionally, he belonged to the Prospect Avenue-based MKE Alano Club, which promotes abstinence and recovery.

Earlier this year, Schank took to Twitter to celebrate 27 years of sobriety:

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