Robert Blanche, former president of the Portland local of SAG-AFTRA, died Jan. 3 after a long battle with a lung ailment.
Best known as Sgt. Franco on NBC’s Grimm, Blanche appeared in over 80 television and film productions, including Men of Honor (2000), Rose Red (2002) and World Trade Center (2006), and two episodes of Portlandia. Blanche also played officer Patrick Bonanno in the TNT show Leverage.
Blanche joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1995 and served as the president of its Portland branch prior to SAG’s 2012 merger with AFTRA, and on several committees of the national union. He later served as local president of SAG-AFTRA from 2017 to 2019.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an inflammation in the lungs that led to pulmonary fibrosis. He received a double lung transplant in August 2018, but struggled to recover.
Over the past year, local union members and supporters raised about $45,000 to help Blanche and his family cope with medical expenses and the loss of income from being unable to work.
Blanche is survived by his wife June Eisler ,and five children.
The union will honor Blanche’s memory at an Jan. 19 viewing party for the televised annual SAG-AFTRA awards at Lake Theater in Lake Oswego. The event is open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP here.
Portland SAG-AFTRA president Michelle Damis and Oregon AFL-CIO labor federation also issued statements of condolences.