Keene Curtis

Performer, Stage Manager

Also known as: Keene Holbrook Curtis

Male

Born: February 15, 1923
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Died: October 13, 2002
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Keene Curtis, the Tony Award-winning actor whose range included roles in everything from The School for Scandal, The Wild Duck and The Cherry Orchard — to Daddy Warbucks in Annie — died early Oct. 13, 2002, near Salt Lake City, after battling Alzheimer's disease, according to industry friends. Keene Curtis, the Tony Award-winning actor whose range included roles in everything from The School for Scandal, The Wild Duck and The Cherry Orchard — to Daddy Warbucks in Annie — died early Oct. 13 near Salt Lake City, after battling Alzheimer's disease, according to industry friends.

Mr. Curtis, 79, whose diction and demeanor dripped with style and presence, won a Tony Award for playing multiple characters in the lives of the European banking family, the Rothschilds, in the 1970 Bock and Harnick musical, The Rothschilds. His imperious, commanding performance is captured on the original cast album of the show.

After playing Albin in the Broadway company of La Cage aux Folles, the actor won raves on the road for his comic performance as the drag-show diva with a parent's heart in the Jerry Herman musical. Peter Marshall played his love interest.

A native of Salt Lake City, Mr. Curtis — born Keene Holbrook Curtis in 1923 — lived in the Hollywood Hills for many years when he wasn't working on the New York stage. One of his many West Coast gigs in TV and film was the recurring role of John Hill, the salty upstairs restaurant owner on TV's "Cheers."

Mr. Curtis also appeared as Lennox in the Orson Welles film, "Macbeth" (1948), and also had roles in the TV movie musical "Gypsy" (1993) and "Heaven Can Wait" (1978), among other pictures.

As his health declined in recent years, his family brought him to Utah where he lived recently in a care facility.

Mr. Curtis' father was a civil servant, his mother a teacher. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Utah in 1934 and earned a master's degree in 1947. During World War II he served in the United States Navy as a lieutenant.

Before getting regularly working as an actor, Mr. Curtis served as a stage manager for dance performances (Martha Graham Dance Company), touring plays (The Male Animal) and Broadway shows (among them, engagements of Noel Coward's Nude With Violin and Present Laughter — directed by and starring Coward, in 1957 and '58, respectively).

In the 1960s he switched to acting full-time, as a founding member of Ellis Rabb's APA-Phoenix Repertory Company, performing classics in Bermuda, regionally (McCarter Theatre and Ann Arbor, MI), Off-Broadway, on tour and on Broadway.

"I am particularly saddened by the loss of Keene," Bruce Hoover, former stage manager for APA, told Playbill On Line. "He was the most positive and generous actor I ever worked with. He was always concerned first with everyone else's comfort in rehearsal and in performances. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. He was also a mentor to me as a young stage manager with APA."

Mr. Curtis' many Broadway credits included Division Street, Via Galactica, Night Watch, A Patriot for Me, Hamlet, Cock-a-Doodle Dandy, The Misanthrope, The Cocktail Party, among others. He also appeared in Off-Broadway's The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney, and Colette with Zoe Caldwell, among other works. His past bios indicate his acting Broadway bow as Shop at Sly Corner in 1949.

— By Kenneth Jones

 

Roles

White Liars & Black Comedy
Sep. 1, 1993 - Oct. 3, 1993
Colonel Melkett Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - La Cage aux Folles La Cage aux Folles
Aug. 21, 1983 - Nov. 15, 1987
Albin Performer
(Replacement)
 
Playbill Cover - Division Street Division Street
Oct. 8, 1980 - Oct. 25, 1980
Yovan Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Annie Annie
Apr. 21, 1977 - Jan. 2, 1983
Oliver Warbucks Performer
(Replacement)
 
Playbill Cover - Via Galactica Via Galactica
Nov. 28, 1972 - Dec. 2, 1972
Dr. Isaacs Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Night Watch Night Watch
Feb. 28, 1972 - Jun. 10, 1972
Curtis Appleby Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Rothschilds The Rothschilds
Oct. 19, 1970 - Jan. 1, 1972
Joseph Fouche Performer
(Original)
 
    Prince Metternich Performer
(Original)
 
    Prince William of Hesse Performer
(Original)
 
    Herries Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Blood Red Roses Blood Red Roses
Mar. 22, 1970 - Mar. 22, 1970
Napoleon III Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Patriot for Me A Patriot for Me
Oct. 6, 1969 - Nov. 15, 1969
Col. Mischa Oblensky Performer
(Original)
Who's Who
Hamlet
Mar. 3, 1969 - Apr. 26, 1969
Player Performer
(Original)
 
Cock-a-Doodle Dandy
Jan. 20, 1969 - Apr. 26, 1969
Sergeant Performer
(Original)
 
The Misanthrope
Oct. 9, 1968 - Apr. 26, 1969
Oronte Performer
(Original)
 
The Cocktail Party
Oct. 7, 1968 - Apr. 26, 1969
Alexander MacColgie Gibbs Performer
(Original)
 
Pantagleize
Sep. 3, 1968 - Sep. 12, 1968
Anarchist Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Cherry Orchard The Cherry Orchard
Mar. 19, 1968 - Jun. 22, 1968
Epikhodov, Semen Panteleevich Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Pantagleize Pantagleize
Nov. 30, 1967 - Jun. 22, 1968
Anarchist Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - War and Peace War and Peace
Mar. 21, 1967 - Jun. 17, 1967
Napoleon Performer
(Original)
 
    Pierre [Alternate] Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - You Can't Take It With You You Can't Take It With You
Feb. 10, 1967 - Feb. 1, 1967
Boris Kolenkhov Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Wild Duck The Wild Duck
Jan. 11, 1967 - Jun. 17, 1967
Chamberlain Balle [Alternate] Performer
(Original)
 
    Molvik [Alternate] Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Right You Are If You Think You Are Right You Are If You Think You Are
Nov. 22, 1966 - Dec. 1, 1966
Sirelli Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The School for Scandal The School for Scandal
Nov. 21, 1966 - Jan. 1, 1967
Sir Oliver Surface Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - You Can't Take It With You You Can't Take It With You
Nov. 23, 1965 - Jun. 18, 1966
Boris Kolenkhov Performer
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Silent Night, Lonely Night Silent Night, Lonely Night
Dec. 3, 1959 - Mar. 19, 1960
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Much Ado About Nothing Much Ado About Nothing
Sep. 17, 1959 - Nov. 7, 1959
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Look After Lulu Look After Lulu
Mar. 3, 1959 - Apr. 4, 1959
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Firstborn The Firstborn
Apr. 29, 1958 - May 31, 1958
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Present Laughter Present Laughter
Jan. 31, 1958 - Feb. 8, 1958
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Nude with Violin Nude with Violin
Nov. 14, 1957 - Feb. 8, 1958
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Four Winds Four Winds
Sep. 25, 1957 - Oct. 12, 1957
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Desk Set The Desk Set
Oct. 24, 1955 - Jul. 7, 1956
Stage Manager
(Replacement)
 
Playbill Cover - The Dark Is Light Enough The Dark Is Light Enough
Feb. 23, 1955 - Apr. 23, 1955
Production Stage Manager
(Original)
 
 

Inside the Playbill (3)

See more Who's Who

Awards


Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1971 Featured Actor in a Musical The Rothschilds Winner
 
Name:
Email:
You are submitting a comment about: The page you are currently on: Keene Curtis - Broadway Theatre Credits, Photos, Who's Who - Playbill Vault
The website in general
What are you writing about?
Who are you?
Explain your reason for writing to us