Roy Brocksmith, a versatile character actor who also tried his hand at directing and playwriting and founded a regional theatre, died Dec. 16 in Los Angeles after a long battle with diabetes, according to friend Hal Corley. He was 56.
Mr. Brocksmith was a frequent presence on the New York stage during the 70s and 80s. He was most often seen in productions at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. Papp and director Richard Foreman gave him his biggest stage success, casting him as the Ballad Singer in the famed Lincoln Center Theater 1976 staging of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, starring Raul Julia and Blair Brown.
Papp also presented Moliere's Don Juan, in which Mr. Brocksmith played Sganerelle. The 1982 production had earlier been a success at Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre, where Mr. Brocksmith performed in several other plays.
He made his Broadway debut in the short-lived play, The Leaf People, in 1975. Other Broadway credits included: the legendary 1978 flop Stages, which was written by producer Stuart Ostrow and directed by Foreman and closed in one night; a 1984 revival of The Three Musketeers, in which he played King Louis XIII; and Tartuffe, at Circle in the Square in 1977. Off-Broadway, he was seen in Polly, The Beggar's Opera, Dr. Salavy's Magic Theater, and with Al Pacino in In the Jungle of Cities.
In 1987, Mr. Brocksmith formed the California Cottage Theatre with Michael Liscio, according to his bio on the Internet Movie Database. He was producing director of the company, and, during the theatre's ten-year life, presented only new plays, including several by himself. Among his plays were Letters from Queens and Box Prelude Opus #1. His adaptation of Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear was presented at Baltimore's Center Stage. During his time in the theatre, Mr. Brocksmith seemed to try his hand at every aspect of the art. He began directing at an early age, working in community theatres. Later on, he directed at Lennox Arts Center, and Alaska Repertory Theatre, where his Twelfth Night was selected to be presented at New York's Joyce Theatre.
Roy Brocksmith was born on Sept. 15, 1945 in Quincy, IL. Equipped with a high soprano from an early age, he sang in churches, schools and taverns. He married his high school sweetheart Adele Albright when he was 18, and moved to New York City in 1969. The couple had a son, Blake. His first union job was in a musical based on Dicken's A Christmas Carol, called The Stingiest Man in Town, starring John Carradine at Town Hall.
Since the late '70s, Mr. Brocksmith appeared in small parts in many television series and films, including "Picket Fences," "Seinfeld," "Tales from the Crypt," "L.A. Law," "Murder One," "Ally McBeal," and, on the big screen, "Scrooged," "The War of the Roses," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Anachrophobia," and "Total Recall."
His last credited film role was in Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of Psycho, in which Mr. Brocksmith, a tall and rotund fellow, made a brief appearance as Alfred Hitchcock, providing the signature cameo the late director put in each of his films.
—By Robert Simonson