Wednesday, October 03, 2007

George Grizzard (1928-2007)

George Grizzard (1928-2007)

Tony Award-winning actor George Grizzard passed away yesterday at the age of 79.

A veteran of the Broadway stage, Grizzard amassed a breathtaking array of 21 credits that spanned 51 years on the Great White Way, beginning with his Tony-nominated portrayal of Hank Griffin in The Desperate Hours alongside Paul Newman and Karl Malden, and concluding with his run opposite Frances Sternhagen (pictured) in the 2005 revival of Edward Albee's Seascape.

In between, he held his own against Hume Cronyn and Jason Robards Jr. in Big Fish, Little Fish (1961) -- as Ronnie Johnson, Grizzard earned his second Tony nomination. Other notable roles had him in the crossfire of Arthur Hill and Uta Hagen as Nick in the original cast of Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1962); portraying Tom Wingfield in the first revival of Tennesee Williams' The Glass Menagerie opposite Pat Hingle, Piper Laurie and Maureen Stapleton (1965); and taking on Bernie Dodd in the first revival of The Country Girl opposite Stapleton and Robards (1972).

Certainly, what could have been considered a career capper came in 1996 with Grizzard's Tony-winning turn as Tobias in the revival of Albee's A Delicate Balance with Elaine Stritch and Rosemary Harris. Yet, ever the trouper, Grizzard would soldier on as the judge in the 2001 revival of Judgment At Nuremburg and then in the aforementioned Seascape. His last stage appearance came just last year in Off-Broadway's Regrets Only.

My biggest regret is that I never had the opportunity to see this true legend perform on the stage, although I certainly admired his television and film work. His passing is a sad day for theatre fans everywhere.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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2 Comments:

At 04 October, 2007, Blogger SarahB said...

I saw Seascape. It wasn't long after I saw Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe and I was excited to see another Albee play. I was almost disappointed. Frances Sternhagen, one of my favorites, and George Grizzard were absolutely wonderful, but the play left me wanting more. It had none of the intensity that WAOVW did. Yet, now in hindsight, I realize it was intense, but in an intense, deeply emotional way.

I am also learning - and this goes along with your previous discussion about seating - that I really need to be closer to the stage in order to enjoy a play. For a musical, I can be sitting in the rafters to be moved, but for a play, I need to be as close to the action as possible - partly its for hearing, partly it's to pick up on subtlety and emotion that is more from the physical action of the actors movements and facial expressesions as well as their voices. I have left plays feeling very underwhelmed when I sat too far away (The History Boys, Seascape, Frost/Nixon, etc). Unfortunately I can't afford to sit close for every play performance.

 
At 04 October, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah, Thanks for your comments. I really regret not seeing Seascape.

Your comments regarding where to sit point to exactly my reason for preferring seats that are close to the stage. Last evening, for example, I saw a play where my ticketed seat was in the second to the last row - I felt completely removed from the production. After intermission, I moved to an empty seat in the third row (with usher permission, of course) and suddenly felt as though I was part of the action. What a difference.

 

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