Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Late Great Fritz Weaver

The average person might not recognise Fritz Weaver's name, but they would certainly recognise his face. In a career that spanned sixty years, Fritz Weaver appeared in numerous television shows, films, and Broadway plays. From his Broadway debut in 1956 to his final credit this year, he was constantly working. Fritz Weaver died at age 90 on November 26 2016.

Fritz Weaver was born on January 19 1936 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Chicago, where he majored in physics, and then served in the Civilian Public Service during World War II. Following the war he moved to New York City where he studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio. He made his debut Off Broadway in The Way of the World at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 1954.

Fritz Weaver made his debut on Broadway in The Chalk Garden in 1956. In the Fifties he also appeared on Broadway in Protective Custody, Miss Lonelyhearts, The Family Reunion, The Power and the Glory, The Great God Brown, Peer Gynt, Henry IV, Part I, and Henry IV, Part II. He made his television debut in 1957 in the Studio One episode "The Playwright and the Stars". He guest starred on the shows The DuPont Show of the Month, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Omnibus, Playhouse 90, CBS Repertoire Workshop, The Twilight Zone, and Festival.

In the Sixties Mr. Weaver guest starred on such shows as Way Out, The Twilight Zone, The Asphalt Jungle, The New Breed, Dr. Kildare, The Defenders, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Rogues, Rawhide, The Fugitive, Combat, Gunsmoke, The Invaders, The Felony Squad, The Name of the Game, The Big Valley, and Ironside. He appeared in the films Fail-Safe (1964), The Maltese Bippy (1969), and A Walk in the Spring Rain (1970).  He appeared on Broadway in A Shot in the Dark, All American, Lorenzo, The White House, Baker Street, and Child's Play. He won a Tony Award for his role as Jerome Malley in Child's Play.

In the Seventies Fritz Weaver guest starred on such shows as Dan August, The Storefront Lawyers, Night Gallery, Mission: Impossible, Medical Centre, Room 222, The Mod Squad, The Snoop Sisters, Mannix, Kung Fu, Barnaby Jones, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon, Wonder Woman, Hawaii Five-O, and Magnum P.I. He starred in the mini-series Holocaust and The Martian Chronicles. He appeared in the films The Day of the Dolphin (1973), Marathon Man (1976), Black Sunday (1977), Demon Seed (1977), The Big Fix (1978), and Nightkill (1980). On Broadway he appeared in Absurd Person Singular and The Price.

In the Eighties Mr. Weaver guest starred on such shows as Quincy M.E.; Falcon Crest; Tales of the Unexpected; The Love Boat; The Twilight ZoneTales From the Darkside; Murder, She WroteHallmark Hall of Fame; Monsters; and Matlock. He appeared in the films Jaws of Satan (1981); Creepshow (1982); and Power (1986). He appeared on Broadway in Angels Fall and Love Letters.

In the Nineties Fritz Weaver guest starred on such shows as All My ChildrenHallmark Hall of Fame, L. A. Law, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X-Files, Fraiser, and Law & Order. He appeared in such television movies as Ironclads (1991 and Citizen Cohn (1992). He appeared in the film The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). He appeared on Broadway in The Crucible and Ring Round the Moon.

In the Teens he appeared in the films Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013), We'll Never Have Paris (2014), and The Cobbler (2014). His last appearance was in The Congressman, set for release this year.

While Fritz Weaver was never a household name, there would seem to be little doubt that he was one of the greatest actors of his time. He was nominated for Tony Awards four times and won two of those times. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in Holocaust.

There should be little wonder that Mr. Weaver should be recognised for his work, as he played a wide variety of roles in his long career. In Fail-Safe he played the overzealous and unstable Colonel Cascio. In Holocaust he played nearly the polar opposite of Colonel Cascio--the respected Dr. Josef Weiss, a Jewish surgeon who attempts to save his fellow Jews in the face of Nazism. He gave two remarkable performances on the original Twilight Zone. In "Third from the Sun" he played Will Sturka, a scientist seeking to save his family on the brink of nuclear war. In "The Obsolete Man" he played The Chancellor, a strict but somewhat hypocritical official in a totalitarian estate. Through the years Fritz Weaver played a wide variety of roles, from military officers to professors to medical doctors to law enforcemet officers to politicians. What is more he played all of them well.

It is most likely due to his talent that Fritz Weaver had such a long and prolific career. He made his first appearance on Broadway in 1956. His last credit was this year. He never really retired. The simple fact is that Fritz Weaver was always in demand throughout his career. Because he could play nearly any part given him, he was able to work as long as he wished. Not every actor is so talented.

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