Wednesday, October 3, 2007

George Grizzard 1928-2007

From the New York Times:

George Grizzard, a versatile actor who achieved his greatest renown on the stage, playing everything from Shakespeare to Shaw, from Neil Simon to Edward Albee, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 79 and lived in Manhattan.

His death, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, was caused by complications of lung cancer, said his partner, William Tynan, who is Mr. Grizzard’s only survivor.

Mr. Grizzard’s career began in the 1950s and lasted more than 50 years. He had roles in movies and was a familiar face on television. But it was in the theater that he thrived, particularly in Mr. Albee’s plays. He appeared in the original 1962 Broadway production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Mr. Albee’s seething drama of marital strife. More than 30 years later, he won a Tony Award for his performance in a revival of another Albee drama, “A Delicate Balance.”

In both plays he was singled out by critics for his ability to move dexterously from one emotional state to another. Howard Taubman, writing about “Virginia Woolf” in The New York Times, praised Mr. Grizzard’s ability to shift “from geniality to intensity with shattering rightness.” Vincent Canby, reviewing “A Delicate Balance” in 1996, wrote admiringly about the way Mr. Grizzard’s character exploded when cornered.

Mr. Grizzard also made several appearances at the William Inge Theatre Festival over the years, and he was a wonderful addition to our “family.”