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Character Actor

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NEWS
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.
NEWS
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!
NEWS
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.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
July 15, 1998 | By Andy Wallace, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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.
NEWS
December 27, 2012 | By Bob Thomas, Associated Press
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.
NEWS
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.
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NEWS
November 21, 2014
BACK WHEN Steve Carell was playing Brick Tamland in "Anchorman," he probably didn't anticipate a day when he'd be on "60 Minutes," discussing his Oscar chances. But there he was a week ago, fielding questions about his widely praised role in "Foxcatcher" as millionaire Main Line murderer John du Pont, easily the strangest role of Carell's admirably weird career. Carell, behind a big fake nose, gives a performance of hair-raising detachment, moving a "60 Minutes" correspondent to ask the actor why, given his commercial success, he'd take a "chance" on a role like this.
NEWS
July 18, 2014 | BY GARY THOMPSON, Daily News Staff Writer thompsg@phillynews.com, 215-854-5992
LONGTIME character actor Frank Grillo has his first starring role in "The Purge: Anarchy," sequel to the 2013 sleeper hit about a heavily controlled society that permits one cathartic night of lawlessness. For Grillo, the rise to stardom has been fitful - "I sometimes say that I've been in the business for 20 years, but I've only been acting for six" - and he credits director and Penn grad Gavin O'Connor (the two made "Pride and Glory" and "Warrior" together) for giving him the right pep talk when he needed it. "I've done everything from soap operas to sitcoms, and I was this certain kind of actor.
NEWS
July 24, 2013 | By Frazier Moore, Associated Press
NEW YORK - Dennis Farina, 69, a onetime Chicago police officer who became a popular character actor and played a TV cop on Law & Order during his wide-ranging career, has died. He had a blood clot in a lung, said his publicist, Lori De Waal, and died Monday morning in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital. For three decades, Mr. Farina was a character actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm, and toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, ivory smile, and ample mustache.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 25, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Must perfection always be so temporary? More than we realize, replies Oscar Wilde in his play An Ideal Husband, if only because it never really exists. The road to such a conclusion is a nasty tale of ruthless blackmail unfolding in upper-class Victorian England that proceeds so confidently, you may leave the Walnut Street Theatre's handsome new production wondering why the play isn't done as often as The Importance of Being Earnest . The cast was uneven in significant places at Wednesday's opening.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
December 27, 2012 | By Bob Thomas, Associated Press
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.
NEWS
December 26, 2012 | ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES - 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. " Durning, who died Monday at age 89 in New York, got his start as an usher at a burlesque theater in Buffalo, N.Y. When one of the comedians showed up too drunk to go on, Durning took his place.
NEWS
December 26, 2012 | By Anthony McCartney, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - Jack Klugman, 90, the prolific, craggy-faced character actor and South Philadelphia native who was loved by millions as the messy one in TV's The Odd Couple and the crime-fighting coroner in Quincy, M.E., died Monday, his family said. Mr. Klugman, who lost his voice to throat cancer in the 1980s but trained himself to speak again, died with his wife at his side. "He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it, and he would encourage others to do the same," son Adam said.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 15, 2012
SEEING A movie star like you've never seen him before - it's an old pitch in movies but decidedly true of Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook. " Writer-director David O. Russell said his top priority was to give heartthrob Cooper a significant makeover in the movie, and a fresh start with audiences. "I knew that I wanted to reintroduce him," said Russell, who cast the Abington native as Pat Solatano, an Upper Darby man just sprung from an institution where he received treatment in lieu of a criminal sentence stemming from an assault.
NEWS
October 14, 2012 | By David Hiltbrand, Inquirer Columnist
So Made in Jersey starring Janet Montgomery was the first series to get canceled. I suppose I should have seen that coming. If there's one thing the last decade of television has proven conclusively, it's that American audiences simply will not put up with a TV show that has a British or Australian lead actor pretending to be one of us. The series also featured as the law firm's chief partner Kyle MacLachlan, who is something of a show-killer....
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