Cris Alexander, Broadway Musical Actor, Dies at 92

By Robert Simonson
19 Mar 2012

Cris Alexander, who played one of the three sailors in the original Broadway production of the musical On the Town, died March 7 of natural causes. He was 92.



Mr. Alexander secured his place in Broadway history with two early performances in musicals by composer Leonard Bernstein, and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. He was Chip, the young, impressionable sailor on leave in New York for 24 hours, who is pursued by a romantically ravenous female taxi driver, in On the Town in 1944. As such, he was the first actor to sing "Come Up to My Place," "Ya Got Me" and "Some Other Time." In 1953, he played the nebbishy Walgreens manager Frank Lippencott in Wonderful Town, a fond look at raffish Greenwich Village in the 1930s.

In between those shows, he was obsessed playwright Roland Maule in the original 1946 Broadway staging of Noel Coward's Present Laughter, starring Clifton Webb. In 1956, he played a variety of parts in the premiere of the comedy Auntie Mame. In the movie version, he played an excitable stage manager at Macy's.

Mr. Alexander later embarked on a second career as a celebrity photographer. For many years, he was the official photographer of the New York City Ballet. He was also chief photographer at Interview magazine for a time. Using posed pictures of models in costume, he contributed photographs to Patrick Dennis' fictional autobiographies "Little Me" and "First Lady."

Cris Alexander was born Alan Smith in Tulsa, OK, on Jan. 14, 1920. He moved to New York at age 18 to become an actor.

Mr. Alexander was predeceased by dancer Shaun O'Brien, his partner for 62 years.