John McMartin

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For the mining speculator and politician in Ontario, Canada, see John McMartin (Canadian politician).
John McMartin
John McMartin.jpg
Born (1929-08-21) August 21, 1929 (age 86)
Warsaw, Indiana, U.S.
Occupation Film, musical theatre, stage and television actor
Years active 1956–present
Spouse(s) Cynthia Baer
(m. 1960–1971; divorced), two daughters

John McMartin (born August 21, 1929)[1] is an American actor of stage, film and television.

Early life and career[edit]

McMartin was born in Warsaw, Indiana in 1929 and raised in Minnesota. He attended college in Illinois and New York. He made his off-Broadway debut in Little Mary Sunshine in 1959, opposite Eileen Brennan and Elmarie Wendel. He won a Theatre World Award for his role as Corporal Billy Jester, and married one of the show's producers, Cynthia Baer, in 1960; they divorced in 1971. He has two daughters by this marriage, Kathleen and Susan, and has not remarried.[citation needed]

His first Broadway appearance was as Forrest Noble in The Conquering Hero in 1961, which was followed by Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole. He created the role of Oscar in Sweet Charity in 1966, opposite Gwen Verdon,[2] garnering a Tony nomination, and played the role again in the 1969 film opposite Shirley MacLaine.[3] He was reportedly cast in Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1962, but his role was cut before the show opened.

He later starred in the original Broadway production of Sondheim's Follies opposite Alexis Smith in 1971 as Benjamin Stone, introducing the ballad "The Road You Didn't Take".[4] His association with Sondheim has continued, appearing in A Little Night Music as Frederick at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, in 1991.[5][6] The reviewer for the Orange County Register (California) wrote that the actor was "aggressively deadpan as her rediscovered old flame..."[7] He appeared in the Broadway revival of Into the Woods in 2002, in the dual role of the Narrator/Mysterious Man.[8][9][10]

Other Broadway roles include the Narrator in Happy New Year, Ben in A Little Family Business (adapted by Jay Presson Allen, 1982),[11] Donner in Tom Stoppard's Artist Descending a Staircase, Cap'n Andy in Kern and Hammerstein's Show Boat (1994),[12] and Uncle Willie in Cole Porter's High Society (1998).[13] He also had a role, as the American Revolutionary naval hero John Paul Jones, in the unsuccessful Loesser/Spewack musical, Pleasures and Palaces, which closed in Detroit.[14]

McMartin was a leading member of the New Phoenix Repertory Company during their three Broadway seasons in the early 1970s, appearing onstage in, among other productions, Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown (opposite Katherine Helmond), Molière's Dom Juan, and Pirandello's The Rules of the Game.

He played "Anton Schell" opposite Chita Rivera in Kander and Ebb's musical The Visit (based on the play by Friedrich Durrenmatt) at the Goodman Theatre. He created the roles of "J.V. 'Major' Bouvier" and Norman Vincent Peale in Grey Gardens, opposite Mary Louise Wilson and Christine Ebersole. He played Thomas Jefferson in the original cast of John Guare's A Free Man of Color at Lincoln Center (2010–2011), and next played "Elisha Whitney" in the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, opposite Jessica Walter.[15]

On television, he appeared on The Golden Girls (Season 2) as Frank Leahy who, unbeknownst to Dorothy (played by Beatrice Arthur) who is romantically attracted to him, is a priest. He appeared on Cheers (Season 7) in "The Visiting Lecher". He appeared as radio personality Fletcher Grey on Frasier (Season 1). He had a recurring role on Murder She Wrote. He also appeared as Shirley Jones' love interest in The Partridge Family 1970 episode titled "When Mother Gets Married".

Broadway credits[edit]

Off-Broadway credits[edit]

Regional theatre credits[edit]

Selected filmography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1960 Theatre World Award for Little Mary Sunshine
  • 1966 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical Sweet Charity (nominee)
  • 1973 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Don Juan (nominee)
  • 1973 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance The Great God Brown (winner)
  • 1973 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance Don Juan (winner)
  • 1995 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Show Boat (nominee)
  • 1998 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical High Society (nominee)
  • 1998 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical High Society (nominee)
  • 2002 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Into the Woods (nominee)
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Grey Gardens (nominee)
  • 2009 Inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[18]


  1. ^ Born August 21, 1929 per Intelius; IMDb cites November 18, 1929; as neither is considered reliable this footnote should serve to indicate any discrepancy.
  2. ^ Kaufmann, Stanley. "Theater: Show That Wants to Be Loved; 'Sweet Charity' Opens at Refurbished Palace" The New York Times (abstract), January 31, 1966, p. 22
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent. New York Times movie review, Sweet Charity, April 2, 1969
  4. ^ "'Follies' listing, Broadway 1971",; accessed August 26, 2012
  5. ^ "1990-91 SEASON; A Little Night Music, April 18-June 30, 1991" (, accessed August 26, 2012
  6. ^ Willis, John. "Ahmanson Theatre" Theatre World 1990-1991, Vol. 47 (, Hal Leonard Corporation, 1992, ISBN 1557831254, p. 121
  7. ^ O'Connor, Thomas. "REVIEW;'Night Music' makes its way to Doolittle", Orange County Register (California), April 19, 1991, SHOW; p. 18
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Fifth Time the Charm for John McMartin?: 'Into the Woods' Star Talks Sondheim",, May 23, 2002
  9. ^ "'Into the Woods', 2002 Broadway Revival Production",, accessed August 26, 2012
  10. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review; Sondheim Reprise Puts Music Ahead of the Journey", The New York Times (abstract), May 1, 2002 (Late Edition), Section E; Column 2; Arts/Cultural Desk; p. 1
  11. ^ Rich, Frank. " 'Family Business', with Angela Lansbury", The New York Times, December 16, 1982, p.C15
  12. ^ Lefkowitz, David. "John McMartin Returning to 'Show Boat' Nov. 5", October 28, 1996
  13. ^ Haun, Harry. "Uncle Of The Bride: John McMartin in 'High Society'", May 21, 1998
  14. ^ Suskin, Steven. "Frank Loesser" Show Tunes : The Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers (2010), (, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199886156, p.242
  15. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Bow Voyage Extended: 'Anything Goes' Will Steam Into April 2012, With Sutton Foster on the Bow",, September 19, 2011
  16. ^ Kenrick, John. "'Thrill Me', The York Theatre Company, May 2005, accessed August 26, 2012
  17. ^ Saltzman, Simon. "A CurtainUp Review. 'Indian Blood'", August 4, 2006
  18. ^

External links[edit]