Thursday, July 13, 2006

Barnard Hughes Passes On

Award winning actor of stage of television, Barnard Hughes, died Tuesday at the age of 90 following a brief illness. He was best known for playing curmudgeons and irasicble grandfathers.

Hughes was born in Bedford Hills, New York on July 16, 1915. He attended Manhattan College in New York City. Eventually he would become part of the Shakespeare Fellowship Repertory company in New York City. He made his debut on Broadway in Herself Mrs. Patrick Crowley. He would go onto appear in more than 400 roles on stage. On Broadway he would appear in such plays as The Ivy Green (1949), Advise and Consent (1960), Hamlet (1964), Much Ado About Nothing (1973), Da (1978), The Iceman Maketh (1985), and Waiting in the Wings (1999). Off Broadway he appeared in Uncle Vanya, A Doll's House, and Translations. He won a Tony Award in 1978 for his role in Da.

Starting in 1954 with an appearance on Kraft Television Theatre, Hughes began his long television career. He would make guest apperances on such shows as The United States Steel Hour, Way Out (a short lived series based on the short stories of Roald Dahl), The Defenders, Route 66, Cannon, All in the Family, and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. He was a regular or semi-regular on the shows The Guiding Light, Dark Shadows, The Secret Storm, and Blossom. He played lead roles in the series Doc, Mr. Merlin, and The Cavanaughs. Among his most notable television roles was that of Bob Newhart's father on The Bob Newhart Show. In 1978 he received an Emmy for a guest appearance on Lou Grant.

Hughes also appeared in films, beginning with a bit part in Playgirl in 1954. He would appear in such films as Midnight Cowboy, Cold Turkey, Maxie, and The Fantasticks. He had featured roles in Tron, The Lost Boys, and Doc Hollywood, and a starring role in Da, based on the play of the same name.

I always liked Barnard Hughes. In fact, I remeber him from the short lived Seventies sitcom Doc. He played Dr. Joe Bogert on the series, a curmudgeonly old doctor. I thought the series was very good in its first season. Sadly, they changed the format in the second season (only Hughes remained of the original cast), which effectively ruined the series. Regardless, Hughes's perfomance was still worth watching. It was his gift that even in lesser vehicles, Hughes would give stellar performances. Whether he was playing in a Shakespeare play like Hamlet or a genre movie like The Lost Boys, Hughes always gave the parts he played his all. I am then very saddened at this death.

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