12 Oct 2023

Rare cancer revealed as cause of Cal Wilson's death as stars pay tribute to 'shining soul' of comedy

3:03 pm on 12 October 2023
Comedian Cal Wilson

Cal Wilson's sudden death hit Australia and New Zealand's comedy community hard. Photo: Giulia McGauran

By Sian Johnson, ABC News

The cause of comedian Cal Wilson's death has been revealed as a rare form of cancer, as tributes to the giant of Australia's comedy scene continue being made.

The death of the revered comedian, writer and actor at the age of 53 took many by surprise, and her peers in the entertainment industry have described her as "amazingly talented and amazingly kind".

When news of her death was announced, the cause was initially described as a "short illness". The ABC has confirmed that illness was a rare cancer.

Dozens of close friends and colleagues gathered on Wednesday evening at Melbourne comedy venue Comedy Republic to remember Wilson.

Venue owner Alex Dyson said the informal event cropped up after news of Wilson's death spread.

"A lot of people were feeling the same feelings, which [were] shock, sadness and love … and so they wanted to be around people feeling the same thing," he said.

"You don't really know where to go in those situations.

"People who knew and were touched by the majesty that was Cal Wilson were able to console each other a bit and share some stories."

The presenter said it was heartwarming to see how many people had been influenced by Wilson.

"It's a big loss for the community and the common thread was just how everyone loved seeing Cal in the green room," he said.

"She was a presence that brought a lot of joy so it's nice that the community can put their arms around each other in that sort of time and celebrate one of the finest to ever do it."

Wilson described as 'a beacon of warmth and silliness'

Since news of the New Zealand-born comedian's death was announced publicly, stars from across Australia's comedy scene have shared their feelings of mourning and loss.

Rove McManus wrote on social media that he was "utterly devastated" and described Wilson as a "shining soul".

"Taken far far too soon from a world that adored her as much as she adored it," he wrote.

"We are a close bunch in the comedy business and Cal was one of everyone's favourites but also a stellar partner and mum. Sending all the love and light and support I can to her family especially right now."

Comedian Celia Pacquola described Wilson as "the best of us".

"Revisiting all of the beautiful memories of her I wish it was simply Cal appreciation day (a day that should exist) rather than this heartbreaking day signifying no more new memories," she wrote.

"Cal offered kindness and support freely, to me and many, for comedy and life.

"She was quick, funny, fierce, crafty, vibrant, caring and a beacon of warmth and silliness in any room."

This story was originally published by the ABC.