Both Victor and Matthew Garber found fame on the big screen, but are they related in any way?
Victor Garber and Matthew Garber are not related in any way. The former is a Canadian actor, born in Ontario in 1949, while the latter was an English actor, born in 1956 and who tragically passed away in 1977.
Read on to learn more about these actors, and the tragic story of Matthew Garber.
Only By Name
It would be unfair to compare these two actors by their success on the big screen. On one hand, you have Victor Garber, who has appeared in productions such as Titanic, Star Trek, and Kung Fu Panda. On the other, Matthew Garber, a child actor who appeared in just three movies before his untimely death.
The two aren’t – or weren’t – related in any way, but bore the same name. This family name isn’t uncommon and derives from Middle English. It originally was assigned to a person who would reap or harvest crops: ‘a garber’.
The origin of this name makes sense for Matthew, born and bred in England, but not so much for Victor. He was born in Canada to parents of Russian-Jewish descent. However, there is a slightly similar name written in a Jewish variant, Gerber.
When examining the childhoods of the two Garbers, there are comparisons that can be drawn. For instance, Victor Garber began acting at the very young age of just nine. He started his acting career on stage, as opposed to in front of a camera.
Similarly, Matthew Garber also took up acting extremely young. He was just seven years old when he made his movie debut, arguably hitting the ground running in a Disney production. The film was a great boon for Matthew, and kick-started his career at an extremely tender age.
Furthermore, both actors arguably have that one defining movie that ultimately shaped their careers. In the case of Victor Garber, his role as Thomas Andrews in Titanic would become timeless. As one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time, any part – no matter how small – garnered unimaginable exposure.
You can see a clip of Victor Garber acting in Titanic, below.
Matthew Garber had similar circumstances, of course. His appearance in Disney’s Mary Poppins rocketed him to international stardom. The film, originally a book, was adapted for the cinema, and was incredibly successful, winning numerous awards. The film premiered in 1964 and would mark the second of just three films Matthew would star in.
Late, and Later Life
Matthew Garber tragically passed away aged just twenty-one, in London. While traveling in India, it’s reported that he unwittingly contracted hepatitis. This is, of course, a disease that can heavily impact the human immune system. It’s estimated he contracted the disease around late 1976, to early 1977.
By the time he’d returned to London in the middle of 1977, hepatitis had almost mortally impacted his body. His pancreas was heavily affected, and he died in June 1977 from an extremely severe case of pancreatitis.
His legacy was considerable, and Mary Poppins – being a Disney classic – endured. In 2004, Disney themselves paid tribute to the once-child actor. They granted him the title of Disney Legend, a program created to honor extraordinary individuals under the Disney banner.
Victor Garber’s career had begun in earnest just three years before the death of Matthew. He had landed several film, television and theatre roles in the early to mid-seventies that had helped get his career running.
However, as the years bore on he would find constant success on both screen and stage. In 2020, Garber was midway through the production of his fortieth movie. He’d made countless appearances in television shows, mostly in small bit-parts, or single-episode castings.
While the lead roles came few and far between, Victor Garber remained a constant presence. He was near-instantly recognizable, owing mostly to his appearance in Titanic. His life has obviously been more publicized than Matthew Garber’s, owing to the nature of the developing media.
In 2012, Victor Garber essentially came out as gay, and in 2015, stated on his Instagram page that he’d married his long-term partner. When he came out, he attempted to downplay it slightly, saying: “I don’t really talk about it, but everybody knows.”
It’s difficult to say how successful Matthew Garber would have been, had he lived as long as Victor Garber. His death was certainly a tragedy, but he’ll undoubtedly be celebrated for as long as Mary Poppins is a fan favorite.