Henderson Forsythe, Respected Character Actor and Tony Winner, Dead at 88

Obituaries   Henderson Forsythe, Respected Character Actor and Tony Winner, Dead at 88 Henderson Forsythe, the character actor who won a Tony Award playing the Texas sheriff conflicted about closing down a brothel in Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, died April 17 in Williamsburg, VA, where he had lived for the past 10 years.
Henderson Forsythe in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Henderson Forsythe in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Mr. Forsythe, 88, won a 1979 Tony in the category of Best Featured Actor in a Musical. As Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, he sang the resigned Carol Hall ballad "Good Old Gal," and is heard on the original cast album. (He also played the Sheriff in London.)

"The years I shared the stage with Henderson in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas were the best of my career," actress Carlin Glynn, who played Miss Mona in the show, told Playbill.com after hearing of Mr. Forsythe's death. "His loyalty, sense of humor, friendship and his wonderful talent were a continual delight. I will miss him so."

In the film version of the property, his role was played by a far less grizzled Burt Reynolds.

Mr. Forsythe was known to fans of TV's "As the World Turns" as Dr. David Stewart, a role he played for 33 years. He was an alternate for the role of George in the original Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and played Harry in the original Broadway production of Albee's A Delicate Balance.

Mr. Forsythe retired in 1996. A respected stage and film actor, his movie resume includes "Silkwood," "Manhattan" and "End of the Line."

His Broadway credits included Some Americans Abroad (1990), A Texas Trilogy: The Oldest Living Graduate (1976), The Freedom of the City (1974), The Engagement Baby (1970), Harvey (1970), The Birthday Party (1967), A Delicate Balance (1966), Malcolm (1966), TheThe Right Honourable Gentleman (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962-64), Miss Lonelyhearts (1957) and The Cellar and the Well (1950).

Born in Macon, MO, on Sept. 11, 1917, he grew up in Monroe City, MO, where he first studied theatre, ran track, and worked in his family's filling station and produce company, according to information supplied by his family

He transferred from Culver-Stockton College to the University of Iowa in 1938, where he appeared in many university productions, earned two theatre degrees, and was a classmate of playwright Tennessee Williams. It was at the University that he met Dorothea Carlson, an actress, who became his wife in 1942. During World War II, he fought in the European Theatre, attaining the rank of Captain.

Mr. and Mrs. Forsythe played starring roles, often together, in some 100 plays as resident actors at the Erie (PA) Playhouse. The couple moved to New York in 1958, where he continued his stage career on and Off-Broadway, on television and in film.

He is survived by his wife Dorothea; son Eric and daughter-in-law Kathryn; son Jason and daughter-in-law Anna; and four grandchildren; Grant, Gwyneth, Richard and Michelle.

A memorial service will be held 2:30 PM April 21 at Williamsburg Landing, Williamsburg, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Actors' Fund of America, 729 Seventh Avenue (10th Floor), New York, NY 10019.

Carlin Glynn with Forsythe in <i>The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.</i>
Carlin Glynn with Forsythe in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.