Donald Grody, Actor and Equity Exec, Dies at 83

Obituaries   Donald Grody, Actor and Equity Exec, Dies at 83 Donald Grody, an actor who served as executive director of Actors' Equity Association from 1973 to 1980, died at his home in Manhattan on July 13. He was 83.

Donald Grody
Donald Grody

As Equity's executive director, Mr. Grody led the actors union's collective bargaining negotiations for Broadway as well as regional theatres throughout the country. He also spearheaded the effort to fund and create permanent rent-subsidized housing for actors at Manhattan Plaza on West 43rd Street.

Mr. Grody journeyed to London in 1949 to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Upon his return to the United States, according to Equity, he appeared on Broadway in Wonderful Town, Bells Are Ringing, Happy Hunting, Kismet, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. A gifted baritone, his vocal training enabled him to hit the back row of any Broadway house.

While pursing his acting career, he returned to school, going to New York Law School. He graduated in 1955 and subsequently passed the New York State bar exam. Mr. Grody took leave from the theatre to work for the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, followed by a stint working for the NYC garment workers (District 65). A few years later, he returned to Washington with the National Labor Relations Board, followed by a return to New York in 1973 to lead Actors' Equity.

Mr. Grody returned to the theatre at age 64 in an Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. This was followed by appearances in the national tour of Guys and Dolls, Parade, Broadway's Jekyll and Hyde (originating the role of Poole), and as a standby for Broadway's Caroline or Change and Grey Gardens. He made many appearances at regional and Off-Broadway houses, including a production of Copenhagen and two productions of King Lear, one of which he adapted to great critical acclaim. His musical play, Ira! The African Roscius, celebrated the life of 19th-century African American actor, Ira Aldridge.

Donald Peter Grody is survived by his wife, Judith Anderson; sons Dion, Gordon, James, Jeremy and Patrick and granddaughters Jess, Jo and Cecily. A celebration of his life and career will be scheduled in the near future. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to The Actors Fund of America or Career Transition For Dancers.

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