Broadway Baritone Keith Andes, of Wildcat, Dead at 85

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
28 Nov 2005

Keith Andes, the handsome baritone who was leading man to Lucille Ball in the Broadway musical Wildcat, was found dead in his California home Nov. 11.



The 85-year-old Andes had recently battled bladder cancer and other ailments, Associated Press reported. The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled the death a suicide by asphyxiation, it was reported.

Mr. Andes was also a film and TV actor who appeared in the sitcom "Glynis" (opposite Glynis Johns) and in the 1952 film "Clash By Night," opposite Marilyn Monroe.

Mr. Andes was reportedly picked out of Broadway's Winged Victory in 1943 by Hollywood studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, who saw him go on as an understudy to Barry Nelson (the all-military cast list names him as Pvt. John Andes, according to Internet Broadway Database). He was offered an uncredited spot in the film version of the stage show, and a career in movies followed. His credits include "The Farmer's Daughter," "Away All Boats," "Back From Eternity," "Damn Citizen," "Model for Murder," "Tora! Tora! Tora!," "And Justice for All" and more. He also starred as Police Chief Col. Frank Dawson in the TV series "This Man Dawson."

Mr. Andes won a Theatre World Awards for his performance in the operetta The Chocolate Soldier in 1947. He later starred in Broadway's Kiss Me, Kate (succeeding Alfred Drake as Fred/Petruchio), Maggie (1953) and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh's Wildcat (he played rugged oil rigger Joe Dynamite, and is heard on the original cast recording from 1960). He also starred in a 1963 production of Wildcat at San Diego's New Circle Arts Theatre.

Mr. Andes was born John Charles Andes in Ocean City, NJ. He graduated Upper Darby High School near Philadelphia in 1938, attended Oxford University in England, graduated with a degree in education from Temple University in 1943 and studied voice at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. He served in the Air Force during World War II.

Twice divorced, Mr. Andes is survived by son Mark, an original member of the rock groups Canned Heat and Spirit; son Matt; and three grandchildren.