Rex Everhart, the character actor who played Ben Franklin in the Broadway musical, 1776, and numerous roles on Broadway and in regional theatre, died March 13 in a Connecticut hospice, according to The New York Times.
Mr. Everhart was 79. The cause of death was lung cancer.
In 1978, Mr. Everhart was nominated for a Featured Actor Tony Award for his role in the musical, Working. In 1776, he replaced Howard Da Silva as Ben Franklin (and is heard on the cast album) and toured with the musical about the signing of The Declaration of Independence.
Mr. Everhart was born in Watseka, IL, and studied at the University of Missouri and the Pasadena Playhouse, where he earned a degree. He also earned degrees at New York University (and served in the Navy) and studied acting in Manhattan with Paul Mann, Martin Ritt and Curt Conway.
His stage debut was as an Indian chief's son in an outdoor pageant, The History of Iroquois County in Watsega, IL, in 1929. He appeared in Pasadena Playhouse productions, acted and directed NYU shows and acted in Rhode Island and at the Margo Jones Theatre in Dallas. In 1955, he had roles in the debut season of American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, CT, and would return there over the years. On Broadway, Mr. Everhart appeared in Tenderloin, No Time for Sargeants, Tall Story, How Now Dow Jones, Skyscraper, Moonbirds, A Rainy Day in Newark, Anything Goes, Rags and Woman of the Year, among others.
He also performed in the era of live TV and did guest spots on series as well as continuing roles on soap operas.
He is survived by his wife, Claire, daughter Degan of Baltimore, and a granddaughter. He lived for many years in Westport, CT.
-- By Kenneth Jones