Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Curtain calls

I first heard about the death of Canadian actor Maury Chaykin at J. Kingston Pierce’s invaluable pulp fiction blog The Rap Sheet; Chaykin passed away on Tuesday (July 27) at the age of 61. Not only is it tragic to lose such a talented thesp at a relatively young age, but the actor died on his birthday; he had been undergoing treatment at a Toronto hospital for kidney problems.

Chaykin was an accomplished stage actor who eventually found steady work in both U.S. and Canadian film and television productions. I’ll readily admit that I’ve only seen his performances in a handful of movies—notably Dances with Wolves (1990), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Hero (1992), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) and Owing Mahowny (2003). He’s perhaps best known as the man who brought Rex Stout’s corpulent sleuth Nero Wolfe to life in a series that was telecast over A&E from 2001 to 2002, and as Harvey Weingard on HBO’s Entourage (a character that parodied motion picture executive Harvey Weinstein). Recently, he was enjoying the fruits of a plum role in the HBO Canada sitcom Less Than Kind. (I haven’t seen either of these three series.)

Actor Carl Gordon has also taken his final bow at the age of 78 as a result of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—Gordon’s work is something with which I’m much familiar, however. His signature role was the part of Andrew Emerson, the curmudgeonly father of Roc Emerson (Charles S. Dutton) on the 1991-94 Fox sitcom Roc. Roc was a fairly undistinguished series about a Baltimore sanitation worker struggling to make ends meet but in a novel stunt to attract viewers to the show, the program was telecast live during its second and third seasons—and I think that’s why I tuned in to watch it. Gordon, who fell into acting late in life, was like Chaykin a stage veteran—and worked with a cast of pros not unfamiliar with live theatre, including star Dutton, Ella Joyce and Rocky Carroll (a fave of mine who later landed a steady gig on Chicago Hope).

Among the films on Gordon’s resume: the amusingly-titled Gordon’s War (1973—in which he played “Luther the Pimp”), The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976), The Brother from Another Planet (1984) and the 1988 TV-movie The Murder of Mary Phagan. He was also glimpsed on occasion as “Mr. Robinson” on the long-running PBS series Sesame Street. (Hat tip to Mercurie at A Shroud of Thoughts for passing this news around.)

R.I.P, Messrs. Chaykin and Gordon. You will be sorely missed.

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1 comment:

Stacia said...

I was sorry to hear about Chaykin. I just mentioned him in my "Kidnapping of the President" post where I said I wished his role had been played by Severn Darden. Sigh. I shouldn't have said that.

I remember Carl Gordon from a million television roles back when I watched TV. Sad news, I was so sure he was still working.