Leonardo Cimino



Born: November 4, 1917
New York, New York

Died: March 3, 2012
Woodstock, New York

Obituary: Leonardo Cimino, a character actor whose distinctive, wizened features kept him in demand throughout his long stage and film career, died March 3 2012 at his home in Woodstock, NY. He was 94.

Mr. Cimino was born in Manhattan Nov. 4, 1917, the son of a tailor. He began acting early, making his professional debut in Suffern, NY, when he was 18. He studied acting, directing and modern dance at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. When taking dance classes with Martha Graham, the actor José Ferrer invited him to take a part in a 1946 revival of Cyrano de Bergerac. It was his Broadway debut, and the start of a long, fruitful run of constant employment.

Ferrer become a lifelong colleague, using Mr. Cimino in several projects, including 1948 productions of Ben Jonson's Volpone and The Alchemist, as well as The Insect Comedy and S.S. Glencairn. All four were at City Center.

Other Broadway credits included The Liar, The Wild Duck, Handful of Fire, The Power and the Glory, A Passage to India, Night Life, Arturo Ui, Diamond Orchid, Mike Downstairs and Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays. He was nominated for a 1976 Drama Desk Award for his performance in the latter work.

Mr. Cimino also appeared in numerous Off-Broadway productions, winning an Obie Award in 1958 for his portrayal of the troubled servant Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov at the Gate Theatre. He acted in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Pinter and Max Frisch at theatres such as the New York Shakespeare Festival, Cherry Lane Thteatre, Martinique Theatre and Orpheum Theatre. In a 1985 Hamlet, he was Polonius to Kevin Kline's Danes in a Public Theater production.

Mr. Cimino had played that role previously, at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Of that performance, the New York Times' Richard Eder wrote, "Leonardo Cimino plays him brilliantly. His small, black-shod feet move everywhere; his is not ridiculous but the master of a situation that he perfectly understands. What he doesn't understand is that uncontrollable force that is undermining it."

In 1970 he was awarded the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actor in a Principal Role for his performance in The Man in the Glass Booth at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

His final Broadway appearance was in a 1985 revival of The Iceman Cometh.

Also active in movies, he acted in "Dune," "Waterworld," "Cotton Comes to Harlem," "The Man in the Glass Booth," "Stardust Memories," "Q&A," "Hudson Hawk," "Moonstruck" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

A veteran of WWII, Mr. Cimino joined the United States Army in 1942, and participated in the invasion of Normandy, landing with the second wave on June 6, 1944.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon Powers.



Playbill Cover - The Iceman Cometh The Iceman Cometh
Sep. 29, 1985 - Dec. 1, 1985
Hugo Kalmar Performer
They Knew What They Wanted
Jan. 27, 1976 - Mar. 6, 1976
Father McKee Performer
A Memory of Two Mondays / 27 Wagons Full of Cotton
Jan. 26, 1976 - Mar. 21, 1976
Jim Performer
Playbill Cover - Mike Downstairs Mike Downstairs
Apr. 18, 1968 - Apr. 20, 1968
Joe Performer
The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Mar. 24, 1966 - Jun. 18, 1966
Surab Performer
Playbill Cover - Diamond Orchid Diamond Orchid
Feb. 10, 1965 - Feb. 13, 1965
Dr. Domingo Guzmano Understudy
    Aguila Performer
Playbill Cover - Arturo Ui Arturo Ui
Nov. 11, 1963 - Nov. 16, 1963
Ensemble Performer
    Fish Performer
    Giuseppe Givola Understudy
Playbill Cover - Night Life Night Life
Oct. 23, 1962 - Dec. 15, 1962
Frenchy Performer
Playbill Cover - A Passage to India A Passage to India
Jan. 31, 1962 - May 5, 1962
Mr. Das Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Power and the Glory The Power and the Glory
Dec. 10, 1958 - Feb. 8, 1958
Lopez Performer
Handful of Fire
Oct. 1, 1958 - Oct. 4, 1958
Alonso Performer
Playbill Cover - The Wild Duck The Wild Duck
Dec. 26, 1951 - Jan. 6, 1952
Molvik Performer
Playbill Cover - The Liar The Liar
May 18, 1950 - May 27, 1950
Servingman Performer
The Insect Comedy
Jun. 3, 1948 - Jun. 12, 1948
Blind Ant Performer
S.S. Glencairn
May 20, 1948 - May 30, 1948
Paul Performer
The Alchemist
May 6, 1948 - May 16, 1948
2nd Officer Performer
Jan. 8, 1948 - Jan. 18, 1948
Nano Performer
Playbill Cover - Cyrano de Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac
Oct. 8, 1946 - Mar. 22, 1947
Another Poet Performer
    Ensemble Performer
The Mayor of Zalemea
Jan. 27, 1946 - Jan. 27, 1946
Nuno, his servant Performer

Inside the Playbill (1)

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Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1976 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play A Memory of Two Mondays / 27 Wagons Full of Cotton Nominee
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