June 28, 2011
Alice Playten, 63, a versatile character actor and musical-comedy voice whose piping wail earned her comparisons to a baby Ethel Merman, died Saturday in New York. The cause was heart failure after a lifelong battle with juvenile diabetes, complicated by pancreatic cancer, said her husband, Joshua White. Ms. Playten was a two-time Obie winner, for the satirical revue National Lampoon's Lemmings and First Lady Suite , the Michael John LaChiusa chamber musical, in which she played Mamie Eisenhower.
August 3, 2012
Norman Alden, 87, a character actor who played a soda jerk in Back to the Future , a cameraman in Tim Burton's Ed Wood and the title role in cult director Richard C. Sarafian's first film, Andy , died Friday in Los Angeles. His death was confirmed by Linda Thieben, his partner of more than 30 years. Mr. Alden acted in television and film for 50 years, appearing regularly on shows such as The Legend of Wyatt Earp , The Untouchables , and My Three Sons . His television career led to parts in films, including Tora!
December 9, 2011
Bill McKinney, 80, a character actor whose most recognizable performance was as a menacing hillbilly in the 1972 film Deliverance, died Dec. 1 of esophageal cancer at a hospital near his home in Van Nuys, Calif. An adaptation of a James Dickey novel, Deliverance tells the harrowing story of a canoe trip by a group of suburbanites in the backwoods of Georgia. Mr. McKinney's character, identified in the script only as "Mountain Man," and a companion capture two of the canoers, played by Jon Voight and Ned Beatty, at gunpoint.
February 18, 2012
David Kelly, 82, an Irish character actor who played Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and motorcycled naked in Waking Ned Devine , died Sunday in Dublin. Mr. Kelly was best known in Ireland for his 1980 depiction of doomed tenement dweller Rashers Tierney in the historical miniseries Strumpet City and for his large body of work as a Dublin stage actor in the 1950s and 1960s. British and Irish TV viewers also could recognize his face and bony frame from short, usually comedic turns on myriad soaps and sitcoms, most memorably as a work-dodging Irish builder opposite John Cleese in a 1975 episode of Fawlty Towers . He also played a dim-witted, one-armed dishwasher in the late-1970s British sitcom Robin's Nest . A longtime colleague, Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan, noted Mr. Kelly's old-school charms, punctuated by his propensity for bow ties and smart suits.
July 28, 2011
G.D. Spradlin, 90, a former lawyer and oil producer who found a second act as a prolific character actor, playing authority figures in such films as Apocalypse Now and The Godfather: Part II , died Sunday at his San Luis Obispo ranch in central California. Born in Pauls Valley, Okla., Gervase Duan Spradlin turned to acting in his 40's after serving in the Army Air Forces in China during World War II, working as an attorney for Phillips Petroleum Co. and striking it rich as an independent oil producer.
January 3, 2013
Harry Carey Jr., 91, a familiar face in such John Ford classics as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Searchers, as well as scores of other movies and television shows, from Perry Mason to B.L. Stryker, has died. Daughter Melinda Carey said he died last Thursday of natural causes surrounded by family at a hospice in Santa Barbara, Calif. "He went out as gracefully as he came in," she said. His career spanned more than 50 years. Later in life, he appeared in the movies Gremlins and Back to the Future Part III. While he lacked the leading-man stature of longtime friend John Wayne, his boyish looks and horse-riding skills earned him roles in many Ford films.
July 15, 1998 |
William H. Preston, 77, whose love of Shakespearean plays led him to a late-blooming career as a character actor, died of cancer Friday at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. Until he was 50 years old, Mr. Preston was a bookkeeper for a trucking firm in Philadelphia. Then, the state condemned his small house on Mole Street for the Vine Street Expressway at about the same time he landed a part in a Broadway play. "I thought, my God, someone's throwing me a ball; all I have to do is catch it," Preston told a reporter later.
December 27, 2012 |
Charles Durning grew up in poverty, lost five of his nine siblings to disease, barely lived through D-Day, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of the Bulge. His hard life and wartime trauma provided the basis for a prolific 50-year career as a consummate Oscar-nominated character actor, playing everyone from a Nazi colonel to the pope to Dustin Hoffman's would-be suitor in Tootsie . Mr. Durning, who died Monday at age 89 in New York, got his start as an usher at a burlesque theater in Buffalo.
August 2, 2012
R.G. Armstrong Jr., 95, known for playing sheriffs, outlaws, and other macho roles, died Friday at his home in Studio City, Calif. His five-decade career took off with guest spots on virtually all the popular western television shows of the 1950s and '60s, including Have Gun - Will Travel and Gunsmoke. After meeting the writer and director Sam Peckinpah on the set of his 1960 series, The Westerner , Mr. Armstrong became a regular in his films, playing a Christian fundamentalist in Ride the High Country , a minister in Major Dundee , and a deputy sheriff in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Departing from westerns, he also had roles in The Great White Hope and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Predator.