Ted Ross, the big-voiced actor who won a Tony Award for playing The Cowardly Lion in the Broadway musical, The Wiz, died Sept. 3 at a Dayton, OH, hospital, according to The Associated Press.
Mr. Ross, who also worked in film and TV, was 68 years old and had lived in a nursing home following a stroke in 1998.
His 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical helped land him the role in the 1978 film version of the stage show, a blues-and-gospel take of the L. Frank Baum classic, "The Wizard of Oz."
According to the wire service, Mr. Ross moved to Dayton from Zanesville when he was seven. At age 18, he won $5 in an amateur-night contest, singing (ironically) "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (heard in the classic film, "The Wizard of Oz").
His films include "Arthur" (he was Dudley Moore's chauffeur, Bitterman), "Ragtime," "Police Academy," "Stealing Home" and "The Fisher King." He was a recurring character, Dean Harris, on "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World" and was seen on series such as "Benson,""The Jeffersons" and "The Equalizer."