George Grizzard

George Grizzard


Born: April 1, 1928
Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

Died: October 2, 2007
New York, New York

George Grizzard, a seasoned stage actor adept at both leading and character roles, and particularly known for his work with playwright Edward Albee, died Oct. 2, 2007, in Manhattan. He was 79. Mr. Grizzard starred in the original Broadway production of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He played Nick, the cocky young teacher whose teetering marriage to the flighty Honey is maliciously sabotaged by the warring older couple of George and Martha. Mr. Grizzard held his own against stars Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill, and — though he had received two Tony Award nominations prior to that time — the play firmly established his name.

Obituary: The actor surprised many when he left Virginia Woolf after only a few months for the opportunity to play Hamlet in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theatre. He remained in Minnesota for two years, playing many parts.

Mr. Grizzard was back on Broadway in an Albee play in 1996, when he starred as Tobias, the patriarch of a crumbling, if gentile, clan in a Lincoln Center Theater revival of A Delicate Balance. The production was hailed as a fresh vision of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about family and loyalty, with Mr. Grizzard singled out for his thoughtful, subtle, layered work. Many critics said he was better than the play's original star, Hume Cronyn. This time, he won the Tony Award. (His previous nominations had been for The Disenchanted and Big Fish, Little Fish.)

His final visit to Broadway, in the 2005 revival of Seascape, was also his final collaboration with Albee. The playwright's fantastical tale of a meeting between two humans and two lizards was termed somewhat slight, but again Mr. Grizzard was commended for his ease with Albee's brittle language and his ability to breathe human life into the arch proceedings.

George Cooper Grizzard, Jr. was born on April 1, 1928, in Roanoke Rapids, NC, and grew up in Washington. He attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He worked briefly at a Washington advertising agency, but quit to audition for the newly established Arena Stage.

He made his Broadway debut in 1955 in The Desperate Hours opposite a young Paul Newman. The two played escaped convicts. In 1959, he starred in Budd Shulberg's adaptation of his own novel, The Disenchanted, alongside Jason Robards, Jr., who played a dissolute novelist based on F. Scott Fitzgerald. He and Robards worked together again in in 1961 in Hugh Wheeler's Big Fish, Little Fish.

Hollywood came calling in the early 1960s and Mr. Grizzard scored a significant role in Otto Preminger's "Advise and Consent." But he never had a prosperous film career. Television treated him much better, giving him work in countless television series and movies.

His other Broadway credits include The Happiest Millionaire, Face of a Hero, Big Fish, Little Fish, The Glass Menagerie, Noel Coward's Sweet Potato, The Gingham Dog, Inquest, The Country Girl, The Creation of the World and Other Business, The Royal Family and California Suite.

Easygoing, charming in a Southern gentlemanly way and philosophical about the life of an actor, Mr. Grizzard never stopped working in his later years, taking Off-Broadway roles in Nicky Silver's Beautiful Child and Paul Rudnick's Regrets Only. He played a gay elder statesman of fashion in the latter play, his final New York stage role. Critics noticed that he was effortlessly able to bring to the role the class, humor and gravitas it required.



Playbill Cover - Seascape Seascape
Nov. 21, 2005 - Jan. 8, 2006
Charlie Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Judgment at Nuremberg Judgment at Nuremberg
Mar. 26, 2001 - May 13, 2001
Judge Haywood Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - A Delicate Balance A Delicate Balance
Apr. 21, 1996 - Sep. 29, 1996
Tobias Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Man and Superman Man and Superman
Dec. 14, 1978 - Feb. 18, 1979
John Tanner Performer
Playbill Cover - California Suite California Suite
Jun. 10, 1976 - Jul. 2, 1977
Sidney Nichols Performer
    Stu Franklyn Performer
    William Warren Performer
Playbill Cover - The Royal Family The Royal Family
Dec. 30, 1975 - Jul. 18, 1976
Tony Cavendish Performer
Playbill Cover - Crown Matrimonial Crown Matrimonial
Oct. 3, 1973 - Dec. 8, 1973
King Edward VIII Performer
Playbill Cover - The Creation of the World and Other Business The Creation of the World and Other Business
Nov. 30, 1972 - Dec. 16, 1972
Lucifer Performer
Playbill Cover - The Country Girl The Country Girl
Mar. 15, 1972 - May 6, 1972
Bernie Dodd Performer
Playbill Cover - Inquest Inquest
Apr. 23, 1970 - May 16, 1970
Julius Rosenberg Performer
Playbill Cover - The Gingham Dog The Gingham Dog
Apr. 23, 1969 - Apr. 26, 1969
Vincent Performer
Playbill Cover - Noël Coward's Sweet Potato Noël Coward's Sweet Potato
Sep. 29, 1968 - Nov. 23, 1968
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running
Mar. 13, 1967 - Jan. 4, 1969
Jack Barnstable Performer
    Salesman Performer
    Herbert Performer
Playbill Cover - The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie
May 4, 1965 - Oct. 2, 1965
The Son Performer
Playbill Cover - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Oct. 13, 1962 - May 16, 1964
Nick Performer
Who's Who
Big Fish, Little Fish
Mar. 15, 1961 - Jun. 10, 1961
Ronnie Johnson Performer
Playbill Cover - Mary, Mary Mary, Mary
Mar. 8, 1961 - Dec. 12, 1964
Bob McKellaway
Jun. 25, 1962
Playbill Cover - Face of a Hero Face of a Hero
Oct. 20, 1960 - Nov. 19, 1960
Harold Rutland, Jr. Performer
The Disenchanted
Dec. 3, 1958 - May 16, 1959
Shep Stearns Performer
Playbill Cover - The Happiest Millionaire The Happiest Millionaire
Nov. 20, 1956 - Jul. 13, 1957
Angier Duke Performer
The Desperate Hours
Feb. 10, 1955 - Aug. 13, 1955
Hank Griffin Performer

Inside the Playbill (6)

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Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1996 Outstanding Actor in a Play A Delicate Balance Nominee

Outer Critics Circle

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
2001 Outstanding Actor in a Play Judgment at Nuremberg Nominee

Theatre World

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1957 Theatre World Award The Happiest Millionaire Winner

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1996 Actor in a Play A Delicate Balance Winner
1961 Featured Actor in a Play Big Fish, Little Fish Nominee
1959 Featured Actor in a Play The Disenchanted Nominee
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