He was 74 and is survived by his wife, Nancy Ford. The cause of death was lung cancer.
Mr. Charles graduated from the University of Texas and served in the U.S. Army. While the Off-Broadway world was flowering in the late 1950s, he landed a job playing a replacement El Gallo in The Fantasticks.
Among his other Off-Broadway credits are The Death of a Well-Loved Boy (1967) and Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1970), which moved to Broadway. He played Mark Van Doren in Manhattan Theatre Club's Night and Her Stars (1995), Richard Greenberg's play about TV quiz show scandals.
On Broadway, he starred opposite Lauren Bacall as Bill Sampson (a role originated by Len Cariou) in Applause, and appeared in Celebration and 1977's The Threepenny Opera.
He guested on TV series over the years, including "Law & Order," "Kate and Allie," "Newhart," "Remington Steele," "Dallas," "Barnaby Jones" and more. He played running parts on many soaps including "As the World Turns," "Ryan's Hope," "Guiding Light" and "One Life to Live." Memorial donations may be made to The Actors' Fund of America.