Al Waxman, the actor and director who distinguished himself at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, died unexpectedly Jan. 17 after surgery in Toronto, according to the Stratford Festival.
Mr. Waxman, 65, had been in the hospital for routine heart surgery when he died, the festival announced Jan. 18.
Richard Monette, the artistic director of Stratford, expressed shock and sorrow about the loss of Mr. Waxman, who was to star as Skylock in the 2001 production of The Merchant of Venice.
TV audiences know is work as Lt. Bert Samuels, the boss on "Cagney & Lacey." He also had a part on the PAX-TV show, "Twice in a Lifetime."
Mr. Waxman memorably played Willy Loman in the 1997 Stratford revival of Death of a Salesman, and directed a production of Diary of Anne Frank there in 2000. "The reason we decided to do Merchant of Venice was because Al wanted to do it," Monette said in a statement from Europe, where he has been traveling on sabbatical. "Al was passionate about the play. We had a phone call when I was in Venice recently and he told me about the operation and we talked for an hour about the play. He had a lot of really good ideas about it, he was really looking forward to doing it and got very excited about it."
Mr. Waxman has worked in England, the United States and Canada on more than 1,000 productions, either as an actor director in film, television, radio and theatre. In addition, Mr. Waxman has devoted almost and equal amount of time to community and charitable causes and served on boards of several cultural institutions.
Monette said Mr. Waxman "was really looking forward to doing The Merchant of Venice. We spoke about the operation and from Al's point of view it was a routine procedure and he was very confident. Al was a marvelous actor, he was a first-rate actor, and he was also a wonderful supporter of the Stratford Festival. He gave us a wonderful performance as Willy Loman and last year's direction of Anne Frank was superb. It's a great loss to us and to the theatrical community and to all his friends who had met him over the years. I'm very sorry to lose him as a friend and also I'm very sorry we won't see his Shylock."
The 2001 Merchant staging is to be directed by Monette, with music composed by Loreena McKennitt.
A Toronto native, Mr. Waxman is survived by his wife, Sara, daughter Tobaron and son Adam.
— By Kenneth Jones