The popular Brazilian soap opera actor Domingos Montagner has died in the same river that his character survived in the show that helped make him a star.
The cause of death? Drowning.
According to Forbes Magazine, Montagner, 54, drowned the morning of September 14. He spent the morning filming scenes from the novela Velho Chico, ate lunch and then “went swimming in the Xingo canyon of the São Francisco River in Northeastern Brazil in the state of Sergipe,” Forbes said.
BBC said the soap opera he starred in was named after the same river in which he died. The British news site said Montagner had gone swimming in the river with an actress.
According to BBC, the actress, Camila Pitanga, said strong currents dragged away Montagner and she “cried for help but local people failed to act initially as they believed the drowning was a scene in the soap opera.”
According to MSN, Domingos “fought” but eventually sank and did not emerge from the water, whereas Camila “was more agile, swam and clung to a rock,” said police chief Antonio Francisco to the newspaper O Globo. The actress stood on the rock yelling for help, said the news site.
Claudia said Pitanga played Montagner’s “love interest” in the soap opera plot, and added that a search unfolded for Montagner for five hours after he vanished in the river.
Of Italian descent, Montagner, before beginning his acting career, taught, played handball, and was in theater productions, said Claudia.
Claudia said Montagner was married since 2002 to the 10-years younger producer Luciana Lima and the couple has three children: Leo, 13, Anthony, 8, and Dante, 5.
Veja.com called Montagner a “global heartthrob.”