Thursday, July 20, 2006

In Memoriam, Actor Barnard Hughes

Within the past week, we have seen a loss to our cultural community. On July 11, actor Barnard Hughes, five days shy of his 91st birthday, died in New York after a short illess. He was acclaimed for his role as a ghostly Irish father haunting his playwright son in Hugh Leonard's Da, won a Tony Award for his portrayal on Broadway in 1978, and reprised his role in the 1988 movie, which was filmed partly in County Wicklow( Dubliner Leonard went on to win a Best Screenplay Award at the Catalonian Film Festival in Sitges).Hughes later reprised the role in Dublin and at the Irish Arts Center in 1996, and again five yeats later at Seton Hall University.

Born in Bedford Hills, N.Y., to Irish immigrant parents Owen and Madge Hughes, he attended Manhattan College before going into the theatre. Debuting in Herself Mrs. Patrick Crowley in 1935, he appeared in some 400 theatrical roles, including A Majority of One(1959), Advise and Consent(1960), Nobody Loves an Albatross(1963), the Richard Burton revival of Hamlet (1964), Abelard and Heloise (1971), The Good Doctor (1973), All Over Town(1974), Angels Fall (1983) , The Iceman Cometh(1985) and Prelude to a Kiss (1990). Hughes was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Dogberry in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in 1973. His last Broadway appearance was in Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings, in 1999-2000; he shared the billing with, among others, his wife of 56 years, Helen Stenborg. His last appearance was as a host of this year's Tony Awards in March.

Truly a star of stage, screen and television, Hughes' filmography included: Playgirl(1954), Midnight Cowboy(1969), Cold Turkey(1971), Look Homeward Angel(1972), Oh, God!(1977), Tron(1982), The Lost Boys(1987), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit(1993), and The Fantastiks(2000), in which he sang. He also put his vocal talents to use singing "Danny Boy" in the TV series The Cavanaughs; other notable television work included roles in Playhouse 90, the soap operas Guiding Light and As the World Turns; All In the Family, Mr. Merlin, Doc and Blossom. In 1977 he was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for his appearance as a judge on Lou Grant.

In 1991, Hughes participated in readings of Immigrant Voices in the Grand Registry Hall of the newly-restored Grand Registry Hall of Ellis Island. He received an honorary doctorate from Manhattan College in 1992.

He leaves behind his wife Helen, his son, the director Doug Hughes(Doubt), his daughter Laura and grandson Samuel Hughes Rubin.

Funeral services were private but Broadway dimmed its lights on the 12th and a memorail service is said to be planned for September. -- Patricia Jameson-Sammartano, WGT Culture Editor

Wikipedia on Barnard Hughes

"Theater and TV Actor Barnard Hughes Dies,"


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