Christopher Hewett, the affable British actor who played Captain Hook to Sandy Duncan's Broadway Peter Pan in 1979-80, and who was TV's "Mr. Belvedere," died Aug. 3 at his Los Angeles home, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Mr. Hewett, 80, had been in declining health in recent years. Among his memorable roles are the flamboyant stage director Roger DeBris in Mel Brooks' film, "The Producers" and the hambone Capt. Hook in the revival of musical, Peter Pan.
Mr. Hewett was born in Worthing, England. His father was a company director and his mother was an actress known as Rhoda Cleighton. His Playbill biography in 1980 stated that he was the great-great-grandson of Daniel O'Connell, the 19th-century Irish political figure who became the first Catholic in modern history to sit in the House of Commons.
His theatrical debut was at age seven in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Theatre Royal in Dublin. Between 1938-42 he served in the Royal Air Force. He was a member of the Oxford Repertory Company 1940-42 and made his London debut as Khadja in The Merry Widow. In London, he also appeared in The Rest Is Silence; The Millionairess with Phyllis Nielsen-Terry; the Hermione Gingold revues, Sweeter and Lower and Sweetest and Lowest; On Monday Next and Slings and Arrows. He was Fred Graham in the British national tour of Kiss Me, Kate and was Pinky in the London staging of the Harold Rome musical, Wish You Were Here.
Mr. Hewett was also a director, particularly of revues, including New York's Shoestring Revue with Beatrice Arthur and Chita Rivera. He staged sketches for a pre-Broadway Ziegfeld Follies, which closed out of town in 1956, and helmed From A to Z on Broadway in 1960. He directed The Boys From Syracuse Off-Broadway in 1963 and then in London. He also staged Broadway's No Sex, Please, We're British. He made his Broadway acting debut as My Fair Lady's Zoltan Karparthy in 1956. He appeared in Westport Country Playhouse's Roar Like a Dove (1960), Broadway's The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960), The Affair and Kean. He was Drama Desk Award-nominated for playing Malvolio in Broadway's Music Is. For the Roundabout Theatre, he appeared in The Rivals and The Circle. He also appeared in nightclubs and performed on radio.
On American TV, from 1985-90, he was Lynn Belvedere, a onetime butler to the Royal Family who gets work in an American household. His withering looks and dry remarks won him a new generation of fans.
In the tradition of Cyril Ritchard, he was a extreme, tortured, campy ham of a Captain Hook opposite Sandy Duncan on Broadway.
— By Kenneth Jones