Henderson Forsythe

Director, Performer


Born: September 11, 1917
Macon, Missouri

Died: April 17, 2006
Williamsburg, Virginia

Henderson Forsythe, the character actor who won a Tony Award playing the Texas sheriff conflicted about closing down a brothel in Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, died April 17, 2006, in Williamsburg, VA, where he had lived for the past 10 years. Mr. Forsythe, 88, won a 1979 Tony in the category of Best Featured Actor in a Musical. As Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, he sang the resigned Carol Hall ballad "Good Old Gal," and is heard on the original cast album. (He also played the Sheriff in London.)

"The years I shared the stage with Henderson in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas were the best of my career," actress Carlin Glynn, who played Miss Mona in the show, told Playbill.com after hearing of Mr. Forsythe's death. "His loyalty, sense of humor, friendship and his wonderful talent were a continual delight. I will miss him so."

In the film version of the property, his role was played by a far less grizzled Burt Reynolds.

Mr. Forsythe was known to fans of TV's "As the World Turns" as Dr. David Stewart, a role he played for 33 years. He was an alternate for the role of George in the original Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and played Harry in the original Broadway production of Albee's A Delicate Balance.

Mr. Forsythe retired in 1996.

A respected stage and film actor, his movie resume includes "Silkwood," "Manhattan" and "End of the Line."

His Broadway credits included Some Americans Abroad (1990), A Texas Trilogy: The Oldest Living Graduate (1976), The Freedom of the City (1974), The Engagement Baby (1970), Harvey (1970), The Birthday Party (1967), A Delicate Balance (1966), Malcolm (1966), TheThe Right Honourable Gentleman (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962-64), Miss Lonelyhearts (1957) and The Cellar and the Well (1950).

Born in Macon, MO, on Sept. 11, 1917, he grew up in Monroe City, MO, where he first studied theatre, ran track, and worked in his family's filling station and produce company, according to information supplied by his family

He transferred from Culver-Stockton College to the University of Iowa in 1938, where he appeared in many university productions, earned two theatre degrees, and was a classmate of playwright Tennessee Williams. It was at the University that he met Dorothea Carlson, an actress, who became his wife in 1942. During World War II, he fought in the European Theatre, attaining the rank of Captain.

Mr. and Mrs. Forsythe played starring roles, often together, in some 100 plays as resident actors at the Erie (PA) Playhouse. The couple moved to New York in 1958, where he continued his stage career on and Off-Broadway, on television and in film.

He is survived by his wife Dorothea; son Eric and daughter-in-law Kathryn; son Jason and daughter-in-law Anna; and four grandchildren; Grant, Gwyneth, Richard and Michelle.

A memorial service will be held 2:30 PM April 21 at Williamsburg Landing, Williamsburg, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Actors' Fund of America, 729 Seventh Avenue (10th Floor), New York, NY 10019.



Playbill Cover - Some Americans Abroad Some Americans Abroad
May 2, 1990 - Jun. 17, 1990
Orson Baldwin Performer
Playbill Cover - The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Jun. 19, 1978 - Mar. 27, 1982
Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd Performer
A Texas Trilogy
Sep. 23, 1976 - Oct. 29, 1976
Clarence Sickenger Performer
    L. D. Alexander Performer
Playbill Cover - The Freedom of the City The Freedom of the City
Feb. 17, 1974 - Feb. 24, 1974
Priest Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Engagement Baby The Engagement Baby
May 21, 1970 - May 23, 1970
Nelson Longhurst Performer
Playbill Cover - Harvey Harvey
Feb. 24, 1970 - May 2, 1970
William R. Chumley, M.D. Performer
Playbill Cover - The Birthday Party The Birthday Party
Oct. 3, 1967 - Jan. 20, 1968
Petey Performer
Playbill Cover - A Delicate Balance A Delicate Balance
Sep. 22, 1966 - Jan. 14, 1967
Harry Performer
Playbill Cover - Malcolm Malcolm
Jan. 11, 1966 - Jan. 15, 1966
A park attendant, Miles, a policeman, and a doctor Performer
    Cox Performer
Playbill Cover - The Right Honourable Gentleman The Right Honourable Gentleman
Oct. 19, 1965 - Jan. 29, 1966
Mr. Donald Crawford Performer
    Mr. Joseph Chamberlain Understudy
Playbill Cover - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Oct. 13, 1962 - May 16, 1964
George [at matinee performances]
Jan. 13, 1964
Playbill Cover - Miss Lonelyhearts Miss Lonelyhearts
Oct. 3, 1957 - Oct. 12, 1957
Ned Gates Performer
The Cellar and the Well
Dec. 10, 1950 - Dec. 17, 1950
    Mr. Hubble Performer

Inside the Playbill (1)

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Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1978 Outstanding Actor in a Musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Nominee

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1979 Featured Actor in a Musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Winner
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