Leonardo Cimino, Character Actor, Dies at 94

Obituaries   Leonardo Cimino, Character Actor, Dies at 94
 
Leonardo Cimino, a character actor whose distinctive, wizened features kept him in demand throughout his long stage and film career, died March 3 at his home in Woodstock, NY. He was 94.

Mr. Cimino was born in Manhattan Nov. 4, 1917, the son of a tailor. He began acting early, making his professional debut in Suffern, NY, when he was 18. He studied acting, directing and modern dance at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. When taking dance classes with Martha Graham, the actor José Ferrer invited him to take a part in a 1946 revival of Cyrano de Bergerac. It was his Broadway debut, and the start of a long, fruitful run of constant employment.

Ferrer become a lifelong colleague, using Mr. Cimino in several projects, including 1948 productions of Ben Jonson's Volpone and The Alchemist, as well as The Insect Comedy and S.S. Glencairn. All four were at City Center.

Other Broadway credits included The Liar, The Wild Duck, Handful of Fire, The Power and the Glory, A Passage to India, Night Life, Arturo Ui, Diamond Orchid, Mike Downstairs and Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays. He was nominated for a 1976 Drama Desk Award for his performance in the latter work.

Mr. Cimino also appeared in numerous Off-Broadway productions, winning an Obie Award in 1958 for his portrayal of the troubled servant Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov at the Gate Theatre. He acted in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Pinter and Max Frisch at theatres such as the New York Shakespeare Festival, Cherry Lane Thteatre, Martinique Theatre and Orpheum Theatre. In a 1985 Hamlet, he was Polonius to Kevin Kline's Danes in a Public Theater production.

Mr. Cimino had played that role previously, at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Of that performance, the New York Times' Richard Eder wrote, "Leonardo Cimino plays him brilliantly. His small, black-shod feet move everywhere; his is not ridiculous but the master of a situation that he perfectly understands. What he doesn't understand is that uncontrollable force that is undermining it." In 1970 he was awarded the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor in a Principal Role for his performance in The Man in the Glass Booth at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

His final Broadway appearance was in a 1985 revival of The Iceman Cometh.

Also active in movies, he acted in "Dune," "Waterworld," "Cotton Comes to Harlem," "The Man in the Glass Booth," "Stardust Memories," "Q&A," "Hudson Hawk," "Moonstruck" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

A veteran of WWII, Mr. Cimino joined the United States Army in 1942, and participated in the invasion of Normandy, landing with the second wave on June 6, 1944.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon Powers.

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