Michael Vale, Donut Pitchman and Original Xanthias in The Frogs, Dies at 83

Obituaries   Michael Vale, Donut Pitchman and Original Xanthias in The Frogs, Dies at 83
Michael Vale, who for 15 years played the sleep-deprived Dunkin' Donuts pitchman Fred the Baker, waking up bleary-eyed every morning with the mantra "Time to make the donuts," died Dec. 24 in New York City of complications from diabetes, the AP reported. He was 83.

Mr. Vale starred in the familiar commercials until 1997. Fred was the most memorable role for the Brooklyn-born man who honed his craft at the Dramatic Workshop in New York City with classmates like Tony Curtis, Ben Gazzara and Rod Steiger.

Though he appeared in more than 1,300 television commercials, he also collected a string of Broadway credits over years, including the short-lived 1964 Albert Hague musical Cafe Crown; the Saul Bellow play The Last Analysis; the smash Alan King vehicle, The Impossible Years; and the Neil Simon comedy California Suite, in which he understudied Jack Weston. His last Broadway appearance was 1977's Unexpected Guest.

His most significant theatrical credit, however, was in a show that played for only one weekend at the Yale University swimming pool. He played the slave Xanthias in the world premiere of Stephen Sondheim's musical oddity The Frogs. Sondheim and librettist Burt Shevelove wrote the show for a production staged in the Yale pool in 1974. The Aristophanes classic was updated to feature a debate between William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. Some scenes were performed in the pool, with Mr. Vale crossing in a boat and Yale undergrads as the Frogs thrashing about in the water.

The show never came to New York, but was recently staged at Lincoln Center in an expanded version. Roger Bart played Xanthias.

Mr. Vale also acted in a handful of movies, including ''Marathon Man'' and ''A Hatful of Rain.''

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