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Jul 07 2016
Stage & Screen Actor John McMartin Dies @ 86 Comments (0)

S-l1600John McMartin (August 21, 1929-July 2016) with Shirley MacLaine in 1969's Sweet Charity (Image via Universal)

RIP to John McMartin, the actor best known as the original Ben in Follies (1971)—he was that production's last surviving cast member—and for several other high-profile originating roles on Broadway. He died at age 86 of cancer this month.

McMartin appeared in innumerable important and well-remembered productions, including Sweet Charity (1966; he reprised his role in the film three years later), Don Juan (1972), The Visit (1973), Showboat (1994), Into the Woods (2002) and Grey Gardens (2006).

ImagesPresidential (Image via Warner Bros.)

His most prominent film appearances was probably in All the President's Men (1976). He worked on the stage and on TV in 2015, when he popped up on an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode.

From Playbill:

Offstage, Mr. McMartin was far from the archetypal actor. Quiet, self-effacing and retiring, he disliked publicity and seldom gave interviews. He was a regular at Sardi’s, and the staff knew to leave him to himself. When asked in 2002 by Playbill about the laudatory reviews and honors that greeted his performance 043_-_The_Golden_Girls_-_Forgive_Me_Fatherin High Society, he replied, “I'm rather shy anyway. I feel uncomfortable. You don't like to be confronted. You'd rather overhear good things.”

Of course, to me, he'll always be the priest who cock-teased Dorothy on The Golden Girls (1987) and Simon Worthington from Madonna's Who's That Girl (1987).

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