Actor Ben Lipitz, known for his multi decade association with The Lion King, has passed away. The sad news was confirmed by Disney Theatricals press representative Dennis Crowley.
Born July 28, 1964, Mr. Lipitz was a familiar face in regional theatres across the country, including Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, where Mr. Lipitz starred in The Producers, Art, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
A notable interpreter of Shakespeare's works, Mr. Lipitz performed in Richard III, Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night's Dream at various times for the Public Theatre of Fort Lauderdale, Essex Theatre, the Florida Shakespeare Festival, and New York's Shakespeare Project.
His most extensive credit, however, is the musical adaptation of The Lion King, with which he has been associated for well over a decade. Mr. Lipitz, who played the warthog Pumbaa for more than 6,000 performances, held the role both on Broadway and multiple national tours, and was one of the longest-tenured performers in the history of the musical.
The April 19 performances of The Lion King on Broadway and its national tour in Ohio will be dedicated to Mr. Lipitz with the following statement from Disney Theatricals.
"Tonight, we celebrate the life of our dear friend and colleague Ben Lipitz. Ben was part of The Lion King for over 20 years, performing as Pumbaa for over 6,000 performances on Broadway and across the country. Ben is forever a part of our family.
"In addition to his time with The Lion King, Ben produced over 100 concerts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Entertainment Community Fund, and The Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. Over his many years on tour, Ben raised an astounding $3,425,139.22 for Broadway Cares. Ben's legacy of centering the needs of others is immeasurable.
"Ben is survived by his wife Rosalie, his son Matthew, and his daughter Mikaela. His laughter and spirit will be deeply missed, for he was one of a kind.
"Please join us in honoring Ben at this performance."
May his memory be a blessing.