Memorial Planned for David Margulies, Stalwart Character Actor of Stage

News   Memorial Planned for David Margulies, Stalwart Character Actor of Stage
Friends are planning to celebrate the life actor David Margulies, who died Jan. 11 at age 78. The celebration of the actor, who successfully moved back and forth from stage to TV to film with memorable portraits of harried ethnic characters, is set for Feb. 1 at 5:30 PM.

David Margulies
David Margulies Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The memorial service will be held at the Pershing Square Signature Center at 480 West 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Mr. Margulies put in more than a dozen appearances on Broadway and more than nearly two dozen Off-Broadway. Sometimes his work was singled out and honored, as with the 2007 New Group production of The Accomplices, which netted him a Lucille Lortel Award nomination and a Richard Seff Award. (The Seff Award, which is given out by Actors’ Equity and honors character actors, also recognized his work in All That I Will Ever Be at New York Theatre Workshop.)

But most of the time, he was a familiar face to audiences and a dependable talent to directors and playwrights—a seasoned performer adept at many styles of performance.

Short, stocky and with an of-the-people mug, he seemed particularly well suited to dramas and comedies that took place in the New York City of past generations. He was one of the rummies in the 1973 Circle in the Square staging of O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh starring James Earl Jones. He was a replacement cast member, playing Jack Jerome, in Neil Simon’s memoir play Brighton Beach Memoirs, and a denizen of a thinly disguised Café Edison in Simon’s 45 Seconds From Broadway. He was a frequenter of another sort of theatrical hangout, the Yiddish theatre kind, in a 1989 revival of Café Crown. He appeared in a 1996 revival of Herb Gardner’s Manhattan-set whimsical comedy A Thousand Clowns, and was a resident of 1930s Greenwich Village in the 2003 revival of the equally whimsical musical Wonderful Town. He also stepped into the role of conniving New York lawyer Roy Cohn in both parts of the Broadway premiere of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.

Yet, he was also capable in European drama. He made his Off-Broadway debut in an acclaimed 1960 staging of Pirandello’s surreal masterpiece Six Characters in Search of an Author. He returned to Pirandello in 1969, playing in The Man With the Flower in His Mouth at Sheridan Square Playhouse. At Astor Place Theatre in 1964, he was in Calderon’s Life Is a Dream, and, with the Phoenix Theatre the same year, he acted in Doctor Faustus. He appeared in new works by playwrights such as Thomas Babe (Kid Champion), Martin Crimp (The Treatment), A.R. Gurney (The Perfect Party), Amy Herzog (After the Revolution, which got him another Lortel nomination), Larry Kramer (Just Say No, his 1988 follow-up to The Normal Heart) and Gardner’s 1992 play Conversations With My Father, in which he played an unemployed Yiddish actor.

"In the wry, bantam figure of David Margulies, Zaretsky is a magical repository of his artistic and ethnic heritage," wrote Frank Rich in the New York Times, "especially in a transporting scene in which he performs excerpts from all his shows, from Hamlet to The Dybbuk, while pulling props from a carpetbag."

On film, he was most famous for playing the politically expedient mayor of New York in "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II." Other films include "9 ½ Weeks," "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can," "Brighton Beach Memoirs," "Dressed to Kill," "All That Jazz," "The Front," "A Most Violent Year" and "Ishtar."

On television, he memorably played Tony Soprano’s lawyer Neil Mink on several episodes of "The Sopranos."

David Margulies was born Feb. 19, 1937, in New York City. A marriage to Carol Grant resulted in divorce.

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