Roberts Blossom, Character Actor of Stage and Screen, Dies at 87

Obituaries   Roberts Blossom, Character Actor of Stage and Screen, Dies at 87
Roberts Blossom, a character actor whose portrayals on both stage and screen won acclaim, if not actual fame, died on July 8 in Santa Monica, CA. He was 87.

Roberts Blossom
Roberts Blossom

Mr. Blossom was probably best known for playing the kindly neighbor who took abandoned Macaulay Culkin under his wing in the hit 1990 film "Home Alone." He was also a familiar face from films such as "The Hospital," "Slaughterhouse Five," "The Great Gatsby," "Reuben, Reuben," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Escape From Alcatraz," "Vision Quest," "The Quick and the Dead" and "Doc Hollywood." Casting agents typically took advantage of his rangy looks and well-creased face, casting him as farmers, gunslingers, prison inmates and other people who appeared to have seen their share of life.

The actor made periodic returns to the stage and, more often than not, was welcomed by critics. He won an Obie Award for his Off-Broadway debut in 1955 in the Shaw play Village Wooing. He won subsequent Obies for Do Not Pass Go in 1965 and the The Ice Age (1976). He also played the title role in Baltleby, a 1961 musical version of the famous Melville story, with a libretto by Edward Albee. The actor often worked with Albee. That same year, he acted in the Off-Broadway premiers of The American Dream and The Death of Bessie Smith.

On Broadway, he acted in The Infernal Machine (1958), A Cook for Mr. General (1961), Albee's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1963), The Physicists (1964), Operation Sidewinder (1970) and Status Quo Vadis (1973).

He played the aged servant Firs in Peter Brooks' celebrated 1988 BAM staging of The Cherry Orchard. "As Firs, the octogenarian family retainer, Roberts Blossom is a tall, impish, bearded figure in formal black, stooping over his cane — a spindly, timeless ghost from the past, as rooted to the soil as the trees we never see," wrote Frank Rich in The New York Times.

Born in 1924 in New Haven, CT, Mr. Blossom graduated from Asheville School in 1941 and attended Harvard. Blossom initially planned on being a therapist.

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