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|Born||Melvin Richard Matthews
November 7, 1940
Oakland, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, scholar|
Life and career
Melvin Richard Matthews was born in Oakland, California. He initially aspired to become a Roman Catholic priest, studying in San Francisco and then at Gregorian University in Rome in the 1960s. However, his growing interest in drama led him to the Juilliard School, where he taught, among others, Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone. He acted and taught at the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) in San Francisco where Annette Bening was one of his students. He also attended graduate school at NYU and is an Emeritus Professor of English at California State University, East Bay in Hayward, California.
He began his stage career in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area, appearing in both the Marin and California Shakespeare Festivals, eventually becoming a member of the acting ensemble of the American Conservatory Theatre. In the late 1980s, settling permanently in Los Angeles, Matthews began guest-starring in television series and appearing in films. He starred in series such as Down Home, Soul Man and, most successfully, The Jeff Foxworthy Show. He also has made many guest appearances on television, including Remington Steele, Dallas, Murder She Wrote, L.A. Law, The Nanny, True Blood, Just Shoot Me!, Star Trek: Voyager, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls (as Headmaster Charleston), Ally McBeal, Coach, The Practice, Who's the Boss?, Charmed, The King of Queens (as Doug Heffernan (Kevin James)'s father Joe), NYPD Blue, Desperate Housewives (appearing in every Season except 5 as Reverend Sykes), House M.D. (appearing in 2004 in "Damned If You Do" the 5th episode of the 1st season playing the role of Marvin/Santa Claus), Blue Bloods (as of 2016 appearing in "Help Me Help You" the 16th episode of the 6th season playing the role of Judge Wilson), Two and a Half Men and Carnivàle.
Matthews has appeared in more than 25 feature films, including Nuts, Like Father Like Son, Clean and Sober, Thirteen Days, Child's Play 3, Funny Farm, True Grit (as Colonel Stonehill), Steven Spielberg's' Lincoln, Flubber, and Zero Charisma. He also appeared in a number of television movies, including And the Band Played On, Baby M, and White Mile. As a stage actor, he is known for his many Shakespearean roles, especially King Lear, Bottom, and Falstaff, and most recently for his portrayals of C. S. Lewis in South Coast Repertory's Shadowlands, as "Warwick" in Shakespeare's Henry IV at the Lincoln Center Theater, as "Undershaft" in Major Barbara and "Tarleton" in Misalliance for South Coast Repertory, as "The Fixer" in Water and Power for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, as "Leonato" in Shakespeare Center L.A.'s production of Much Ado About Nothing with Helen Hunt, as "Cardinal Wolsey" in A Man For All Seasons with Frank Langella at the Roundabout, and as "Senator Carlin" in Gore Vidal's The Best Man on Broadway.
He is also a playwright, director, and theater scholar who has published books and articles on Shakespeare and translations of 17th-century Spanish theater. He has been a dramaturg on numerous theatrical productions, including the 2005 Broadway revival of Julius Caesar starring Denzel Washington and the 2003 revival of Henry IV, winning a Drama Desk Award Special Award for his adaptation of the latter.
Matthews was also Artistic Director of the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, the California Actors Theatre, The Antaeus Company (which he co-founded in 1991), and the Andak Stage Company; he is an Associate Artist of the Old Globe Theatre; and a founding member of the John Houseman's The Acting Company and Sam Mendes' Bridge Project.
Matthews appeared in the 2009 world tour of The Bridge Project as "Pishchick" in The Cherry Orchard and "Antigonus" in The Winter's Tale. In the 2011 summer season of The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park, he performed as "the Provost" in Measure for Measure and "Lafew" in All's Well That Ends Well. and as "Sir Humphrey" in the American premiere of Yes Prime Minister at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. He was nominated for an Ovation Award for Book and Lyrics of an original musical entitled Liberty Inn, which he co-wrote with B. T. Ryback. In 2011, his verse translation of The Capulets & The Montagues played at the Andak Stage Company and the International Siglo de Oro Festival, winning the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Adaptation. Matthews appeared twice as Santa Claus in The Big Bang Theory Season 6 episode, "The Santa Simulation" and Season 8 episode "The Clean Room Infiltration".
He was the dramaturg for the Lincoln Center production of Macbeth (2013), directed by Jack O'Brien and starring Ethan Hawke. He appeared as "Richard Russell" in Robert Schenkkan's award-winning L.B.J. play All The Way, starring Bryan Cranston, at A.R.T. in Cambridge in September 2013. He appeared as "Mickey Goldmill" in the Broadway musical Rocky the Musical in 2014. Matthews portrayed Judge Byers in the 2015 film Bridge of Spies. He portrays "Joe" in the new musical Waitress that opened on Broadway in April 2016.
- According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At Ancestry.com
- Miller, Daryl H. "A Commanding Stage Presence" Los Angeles Times, July 5, 1998
- '"Julius Caesar' Broadway" ibdb.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- "'Henry IV' Broadway" ibdb.com, accessed February 17, 2016
-  shakespeareinthepark.org
-  shakespeareinthepark.org
- "'Macbeth' Broadway" ibdb.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- Hetrick, Adam. "Bryan Cranston Is Lyndon B. Johnson in 'All The Way', Premiering Sept. 13 at the American Repertory Theater" playbill.com, September 13, 2013
- "'Rocky' Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- "'Waitress' Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed February 17, 2016