Michael McAloney, Former Actor and Borstal Boy Producer, is Dead

News   Michael McAloney, Former Actor and Borstal Boy Producer, is Dead Michael McAloney, an actor, director and producer who produced the Tony Award-winning staging of Borstal Boy in 1970 and numerous plays around the world, died May 16 at the Actor's Fund Home in Englewood, NJ.

Michael McAloney, an actor, director and producer who produced the Tony Award-winning staging of Borstal Boy in 1970 and numerous plays around the world, died May 16 at the Actor's Fund Home in Englewood, NJ.

Mr. McAloney, who pronounced his name "mick-AL-uh-nee," was 72, his son, Holt, told Playbill On-Line. Holt, an actor whose mother is the cabaret legend Julie Wilson, uses the more phonetic "McCallany" as his professional name.

Mr. McAloney was a character actor in Broadway plays and live television in the 1950s before turning to producing and directing. On Broadway, he appeared in Witness for the Prosecution, The Hostile Witness, Redhead, The Winslow Boy and several other productions.

Mr. McAloney studied at Dartmouth and joined the U.S. Marines before his theatre career began. His son said that his colorful father lamented the fact that character actors in the 1950s didn't have the opportunity to break into stardom the way Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino did in the 1970s.

Mr. McAloney was a protégé of the actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke. "My father spent much of his career as a producer, but he was an actor at heart," said McCallany. "He was a flamboyant character who had a big personality. I certainly was encouraged to pursue a career in theatre."

He produced plays around the world, including in Ireland, where he was raised after being born in Greenwich, CT. His birth name was Michael Noel Quinn, but he took his stepfather's name, McAloney. His first wife was actress Donna Pearson, and his marriage to Wilson lasted through the 1960s.

Borstal Boy, brought into New York after it played the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, was Mr. McAloney's best-known producing project in the United States, but he produced in England, Ireland, South Africa and Canada, as well. For Borstal Boy, playwright Frank McMahon adapted Brendan Behan's writing for the stage. Mr. McAloney's co producer was Burton C. Kaiser.

Borstal Boy also earned a Tony nomination for actor Frank Grimes, who played a young, feisty Brendan Behan. The work was drawn from Behan's autobiographical account of his arrest, as a teenager, as an IRA sympathizer. The production also earned a Best Play award from the New York Drama Critics Circle.

"My parents were so very different," said McCallany. "My mother was a hardworking, disciplined performer who took care of herself and her work and was really dedicated. My father was one of those wild sort of fun loving Irishmen. He was a poet and a romantic, but I don't know that he had her discipline and her dedication."

But Mr. McAloney had a talent for promoting others.

"He turned to producing because it was his opportunity to discover a talent, discover a project, initiate it and develop it," said McCallany. "Many of the shows my father produced seemed like terrible longshots to a lot of people, yet he would get the curtain up. I guess if I learned anything from my dad it was that the best quality you can have for a career in the arts is resiliency."

His producing credits include many Toronto stagings, including Two Faces of Africa, an exploration of African identity and culture, at the O'Keefe Center; Lanford Wilson's Hot L Baltimore and a musical version of Harvey called Say Hello to Harvey with Donald O'Connor, both at the Royal Alexandra Theatre (two of 25 works there).

In London, he produced the avant garde play, East, about life in London's East End, by Steven Berkoff. He also produced in Dublin and Chicago.

His last producing projects were Marilyn, in Her Own Words, about Marilyn Monroe, in 1994 in South Africa, and Shaken, Not Stirred, Sir, a Dublin Theatre Festival piece about women in the saloon business, staged in South Africa in 1996-97.

A memorial gathering for friends and family will be 5 PM May 19 at Kennedy's, 327 W. 57th St. in Manhattan.

-- By Kenneth Jones