Chicago's Goodman Theatre is now the owner of Del Close's skull, four months after the death of the former actor and producer at Chicago's Second City. In his will, Close bequeathed that after his death, his skull would be donated to The Goodman "for any purposes it deems appropriate."
Close, who was known for his dark humor, put the skull clause in his will about a year before he died at age 64 from complications from emphysema. Close's skull, missing some front teeth and resting on a velvet cushion in a plastic box, was presented to the theatre on July 1.
The skull was chemically cleaned before it was presented to the theatre. Close's ashes, contained in a box resembling a book, were donated to Chicago's Improv Olympic, which Close also helped found.
The Goodman's artistic director and recent Tony-winner for directing Death of a Salesman, Robert Falls, suggested that Close's ''final gift of laughter'' might be used in a production of Hamlet. Falls then reportedly held up the skull and said, "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew you Del." Falls also said he would find ways to work the gift into other shows, complete with billing and biographical information in the program.
-- By Sean McGrath