Richard Clarke, Broadway Character Actor, Is Dead at Age 70

Obituaries   Richard Clarke, Broadway Character Actor, Is Dead at Age 70 Richard Clarke, the dignified-looking British character actor with a score of Broadway credits, died on Jan. 7 of colon cancer, according to friend and colleague, playwright Jeff Whitty. He was 70.

Mr. Clarke was born in England, but spent much of his career on the New York stage. His first Broadway credit was Jean Kerr's Poor Richard in 1964, in which he understudied lead Alan Bates. His most recent was 1999's Lincoln Center Theater revival of Ring Round the Moon, in which he played "Joshua, a crumbling butler."

Owning to his elegant mein and neatly trimmed moustache, Mr. Clarke often found himself playing a butler, detective or head waiter in such projects as David Hare's Racing Demon and Six Degrees of Separation at Lincoln Center—a frequent employer—and "Meet Joe Black" on the big screen. One of his more prominent credits was the original Broadway staging of The Elephant Man, in which he played Carr Gomm. He duplicated the performance in a 1982 television movie.

Other Broadway credits include Saint Joan, Tiger at the Gates, Cyrano de Bergerac, Conduct Unbecoming, Hay Fever, Breaking the Code, The Devil's Disciple, Two Shakespearean Actors, Arcadia, Taking Sides and The Judas Kiss.

His film credits included "Midnight Cowboy" and "John and Mary." In the 1990 miniseries "The Kennedys of Massachusetts," he played British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whom he rather resembled.

One of his last jobs was in Whitty's play The Hiding Place in January 2004. "Richard was utterly wonderful to work with—feisty and hilarious," Whitty remembered. "And he was immensely brave—he was nearly blind when he performed in the show, and nobody in the audience ever suspected. His performance was beautifully tuned, sensitive and funny funny funny. Most of the cast was in their twenties and thirties, and he matched them in energy and dedication."

Richard Clarke (left) with Donal Donnelly in <i>The Elephant Man</i>.
Richard Clarke (left) with Donal Donnelly in The Elephant Man. Photo by Zo