Joe Bova, Prince Dauntless in Broadway's Mattress, Dead at 81

Obituaries   Joe Bova, Prince Dauntless in Broadway's Mattress, Dead at 81 Tony Award-nominated actor Joe Bova, who was Prince Dauntless to Carol Burnett's Princess Fred in Once Upon a Mattress in 1959, died March 12 at the Actors' Fund Retirement Home in New Jersey, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Mr. Bova was children's TV personality in Cleveland prior to moving to New York City, where he also worked in TV and on the stage. His Broadway debut was the musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress.

Mr. Bova was nominated for a Tony Award (Best Featured Actor in a Play) for his work in The Chinese, one of two one-acts on a double bill by Murray Schisgal in 1970. (The other play was Dr. Fish.)

A known as Joseph Bova in some credits, he also appeared in Broadway's 42nd Street (as Bert Barry, in the original 1980 cast), Saint Joan (1977), An American Millionaire (1974), the musical comedy Hot Spot (1963) and The Rape of the Belt (1960).

Mr. Bova also appeared in a 1964 TV production of Mattress, with Burnett.

In the golden age of television, Mr. Bova was program director at WNBK, Cleveland's NBC station. He was enlisted to entertain on a new children's show to feature "Uncle Joe." He was armed with a banjo and a trick hat, according to reports. NBC brought him to New York in the 1950s.

"He would probably say his most significant work was with Shakespeare in the Park in Manhattan," his wife, Lee Lawson, told the Plain Dealer.

Mr. Bova worked with directors Joseph Papp and Gerald Freedman at the Delacorte Theater in Romeo and Juliet (he was Mercutio to Martin Sheen's Romeo in 1968), Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Troilus and Cressida and Love's Labours Lost. His Off-Broadway credits include The Roundabout Theatre Company's The Matchmaker (as Horace Vandergelder) at the Union Square Theatre in 1991; The Beauty Part at American Place Theatre in 1974; a 1964-65 OBIE Award winning production of The Cradle Will Rock at Theatre Four; and Invitation to a Beheading, adapted from a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, at The Public Theater.