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Canada's governor general a minor character in "Love Story"

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“Love Story,” Erich Segal’s mega-selling 1970 romance novel, bestowed popular culture with the unforgettably sappy line, “Love means not ever having to say you're sorry.” It’s uttered by artsy Radcliffe student Jenny Cavilleri to her preppy Harvard-educated husband Oliver Barrett IV. In 1997, the literary and political worlds were set abuzz when it was revealed that Al Gore was the inspiration, in part, for the character of Oliver.

Now there’s a connection between the novel and the soon-to-be Canadian head of state.

The Toronto Star reports that Segal modeled the character of Davey Johnston, captain of the Harvard hockey team, on David Johnston, who attended Harvard in the 1960s as an undergrad. It was announced last week that Johnston will become Canada’s next governor general on Oct. 1. (“The Governor General is the representative of the Queen in Canada,” says the office’s Web site.)

Johnston’s role in “Love Story” is minor. His most dramatic scene comes when the hockey team loses to Cornell in the all-important title game. As Oliver Barrett tells it in the novel:

Davey Johnston skated up-ice, red-faced, angry. He passed by me without so much as a glance. And did I notice tears in his eyes? I mean, okay, the title was at stake, but Jesus — tears!”

Johnston told the Sault Star that those tears are “total fiction.” But he did admit that when watching the movie version with his wife they both “get a little sentimental.”

Erich Segal died in January at the age of 72.

—Stephen Lowman

By Rachel Hartigan Shea  |  July 16, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
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