Born in Minneapolis, Mr. Van Slyke got his Equity card in 1978 while playing Sherlock Holmes at Park Forest's Illinois Theatre Center. That role of the patrician, sophisticated, vaguely sinister detective could be seen as a blueprint for the kind of the parts for which the actor became known. He was appreciated for his affinity with language and wit, and was particularly adept in British plays.
"He was elegant, understated, sophisticated and intelligent," Northlight Theatre artistic director B.J. Jones told the Tribune.
Mr. Van Slyke worked at all the top Chicago theatres, including Steppenwolf Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater and Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, where he was allowed to use his singing voice. His many credits included The Price, No Man's Land, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Twelfth Night, I Hate Hamlet, Ten Little Indians, Aren't We All? and Quartermaine's Terms. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for his performance in the Pinter play in 2002. The theatre that cast him in that play, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, made Mr. Van Slyke an artistic associate that same year.
Of his performance in Ten Little Indians, Hedy Weiss of The Chicago Sun-Times wrote "he brings a strange, haunting gravitas to the proceedings, endowing Christie's writing with a breathtaking streak of existentialism."
Arrangements are pending. He is survived by two sisters, Judy Peabody and Mary Bernier, and three brothers, Paul, James and David Van Slyke.