Michael Tolan, Actor and Founder of American Place Theatre, Dies at 85 | Playbill

News Michael Tolan, Actor and Founder of American Place Theatre, Dies at 85
Michael Tolan, a stage and television actor who helped found the important Off-Broadway forum American Place Theatre, died on Jan. 31 in Hudson, NY. He was 85. The cause was heart disease and renal failure.

Michael Tolan
Michael Tolan

Mr. Tolan stepped into roles in Broadway's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and Romanoff and Juliet, and acted in the hit drama A Majority of One before walking away from the stage.

"This Broadway is for the birds," he told The New York Times in 1965. "In 99 percent of the cases it has nothing to do with acting as a craft, as an art."

He made more of an impact Off-Broadway, founding the nonprofit American Place Theater with Wynn Handman and Sidney Lanier at St. Clement’s Church on West 46th Street in 1963. The theatre later moved to Ninth Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets. It proved a starting point for rising writers like Ed Bullins and Ronald Ribman and actors such as Ellen Barkin and Faye Dunaway.

At American Place, he played alongside Dustin Hoffman in The Journey of the Fifth Horse, one of the plays that helped catapult Hoffman to notice. He acted again with Hoffman in the film "John and Mary."

In the 1960s, he began acting in television, first televised plays, then in series such as "The Doctors and the Nurses" and "The Senator," as well as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," in which he played one of Mary's boyfriends.

Michael Tolan was born Nov. 27, 1924, as Seymour Tuchow in Detroit. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1947. He moved to New York, where he studied under Stella Adler and won a fellowship to study acting at Stanford University.

His two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by a daughter, Alexandra, from his first marriage, to the actress Rosemary Forsyth; and two daughters, Jenny and Emilie, from his marriage to Carol Hume.

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