John McMartin

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John McMartin
John McMartin.jpg
McMartin in July 2011
John Francis McMartin

(1929-08-21)August 21, 1929
DiedJuly 6, 2016(2016-07-06) (aged 86)
Years active1956–2015
Cynthia Baer
(m. 1960; div. 1971)
Partner(s)Charlotte Moore
John McMartin and Shirley MacLaine in Sweet Charity (1969)

John Francis McMartin (August 21, 1929[1] – July 6, 2016) was an American actor of stage, film and television.

Life and career[edit]

McMartin was born in Warsaw, Indiana on August 21, 1929[2] and raised in Minnesota. After graduating from high school, McMartin joined the United States Army and became a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division. He attended Columbia College Chicago, but did not graduate and he later attended college in New York.[3] 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.

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,[4] garnering a Tony nomination, and played the role again in the 1969 film opposite Shirley MacLaine.[5] 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".[6] His association with Sondheim has continued, appearing in A Little Night Music as Frederick at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, in 1991.[7][8] The reviewer for the Orange County Register (California) wrote that the actor was "aggressively deadpan as her rediscovered old flame ..."[9] He appeared in the Broadway revival of Into the Woods in 2002, in the dual role of the Narrator/Mysterious Man.[10][11][12]

Other Broadway roles include the Narrator in Happy New Year, Ben in A Little Family Business (adapted by Jay Presson Allen, 1982),[13] Donner in Tom Stoppard's Artist Descending a Staircase, Cap'n Andy in Kern and Hammerstein's Show Boat (1994),[14] and Uncle Willie in Cole Porter's High Society (1998).[15] 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.[16] In regional theater, he originated the role of Benteen in the Folger Theater Group's 1979 production of Custer at the Kennedy Center.[17]

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 Luigi 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 Dürrenmatt) 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.[18]

On television, he appeared on the soap opera As the World Turns as Ed Rice. He later was on the CBS drama East Side West Side and in the first two seasons of Beauty and the Beast (1987) as Charles Chandler, father of Catherine (Linda Hamilton). He also appeared in The Golden Girls (Season 2) as Frank Leahy who, unbeknownst to Dorothy (Bea Arthur) who is romantically attracted to him, is a priest. He appeared on The Bob Newhart Show (Season 2) as the Rev. Dr. Dan Bradford in "Somebody Down Here Likes Me.". He appeared on Cheers (Season 7) in "The Visiting Lecher". He appeared as radio personality Fletcher Grey on Frasier (Season 1). He also appeared in four episodes of Murder, She Wrote. He also appeared as Shirley Jones' love interest in The Partridge Family episode titled "When Mother Gets Married".[19]

On film his roles included the foreign editor in All the President's Men (1976), a Senator in Brubaker (1980), a political advisor in Blow Out (1981) and a significant part in Legal Eagles (1986) as millionaire Mr. Forrester.[19]


McMartin died of cancer in Manhattan on July 6, 2016, aged 86.[1][20] He is survived by his two daughters from his marriage, and his long-time partner, actress Charlotte Moore, artistic director of the Irish Repertory Theatre.[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1965 A Thousand Clowns The Man in the Office
1968 What's So Bad About Feeling Good? The Mayor
1969 Sweet Charity Oscar
1976 All the President's Men Foreign Editor
1977 Thieves Gordon
1980 Brubaker Senator Charles Hite
1981 Blow Out Lawrence Henry
1981 Pennies From Heaven Mr. Warner
1986 Dream Lover Martin
1986 Legal Eagles Forrester
1986 Native Son Mr. Dalton
1987 Who's That Girl Simon Worthington
1989 Little Sweetheart Uncle David
1990 A Shock to the System George Brewster
1998 Three Businessmen Liverpool Businessman
2000 The Dish U.S. Ambassador Howard
2004 Kinsey Huntington Hartford
2007 No Reservations Mr. Peterson


Year Title Role Notes
1956 As the World Turns Ed Rice
1958 Armstrong Circle Theatre Performer Episode: The Invisible Mark
1961 Frontiers of Faith Man Episode: Let Us Build a Tower
1963 The DuPont Show of the Week Performer Episode: Ride with Terror
1963 Ride with Terror Performer Television Movie
1964 East Side West Side Mike Miller 3 episodes
1964 The Doctors and the Nurses William Devon Episode: A Postcard from Yucatan
1964 Mr. Broadway Robertson Episode: Try to Find a Spy
1965 Profiles in Courage Tumulty Episode: Woodrow Wilson
1965 A Flame in the Wind Ted 2 episodes
1968 Premiere John Higher/Prof. Josh Enders 2 episodes
1969 Judd, for the Defense Don Townsend Episode: Visitation
1969 Medical Center Dan Caldwell Episode: A Life Is Waiting
1970 Marcus Welby, M.D. John Ambrose Episode: Fun and Games and John Ambrose
1970 Ritual of Evil Edward Bolander Television Movie
1970 The Partridge Family Larry Metcalfe Episode: When Mother Gets Married
1970 Insight Chipper Episode: Chipper
1971 Hawaii Five-O Ron Nicholson 2 episodes
1971 Love, American Style Peter Ferguson Season 2 Episode 23
1971 God Bless Mr. Ferguson Performer Television Movie
1973 The Bob Newhart Show Rev. Daniel Bradford Episode: Somebody Down Here Likes Me
1974 Harry O Jordan Briggs Episode: The Admiral's Lady
1975 Cannon Sen. Arlen Andrews Episode: Nightmare
1975 Fear on Trial Tom Murray Television Movie
1975-76 Phyllis Jerome Patterson 2 episodes
1976 Fay Performer Episode: Fay and the Doctor
1976 The Rockford Files Timson Farrell Episode: The Fourth Man
1976 The Fatal Weakness Paul Espenshade Television Movie
1976 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Barry Munroe Episode: Mary Gets a Lawyer
1978 The Defection of Simas Kudirka Phillip Chadway Television Movie
1979 Dear Detective Performer Episode #1.4
1980 The Greatest Man in the World Ames Herbert Television Movie
1981 Hart to Hart Cole Morefeld Episode: Murder Wrap
1975-81 Great Performances Performer 2 episodes
1983 The Last Ninja Mr. Cosmo Television Movie
1982-84 American Playhouse Performer 2 episodes
1984-86 Magnum, P.I. Jason Bryan/Bill Campbell 2 episodes
1985-86 Falcon Crest Julian J. Roberts 8 episodes
1986 Murrow Frank Stanton Television Movie
1986 Kay O'Brien Jack O'Brien Episode: Don't Bother Kayo It's Chinatown
1987 The Golden Girls Father Frank Leahy Episode: Forgive Me, Father
1987-89 Beauty and the Beast Charles Chandler 4 episodes
1988 Lincoln Salmon P. Chase 2 episodes
1988 Roots: The Gift Edmund Parker Sr. Television Movie
1989 Tattingers Frederick Lund Episode: Broken Windows
1989 Day One Dr. Arthur Compton Television Movie
1989 Cheers Dr. Lawrence Crandell Episode: The Visiting Lecher
1991 Separate But Equal Gov. James F. Byrnes Television Miniseries
1985-91 Murder, She Wrote Various Roles 4 episodes
1992 Empty Nest Rev. Chambers Episode: The Son of a Preacherman
1992 Citizen Cohn Older Doctor Television Movie
1992 Sisters J.D. Fitzway Episode: Portrait of the Artists
1990-92 Coach Judge Watkins 2 episodes
1993 Ghostwriter Alan Charles Episode: Who's Who - Part 3
1993 Bob Dr. O'Reilly Episode: Better to How Loved and Flossed
1994 Frasier Fletcher Grey Episode: And the Whimper Is...
1997-98 Touched by an Angel Earl Gray/Ed Greeley 2 episodes
1999 Spin City Sen. Joseph Grady Episode: The Thanksgiving Show
2000 Oz Lars Nathan 2 episodes
2001 Further Tales of the City Royal Reichenbach 3 episodes
1992-09 Law & Order Various Roles 5 episodes
2015 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Grant Episode: Kimmy Goes on a Date



Year Title Role Venue
1961 The Conquering Hero Forrest Noble ANTA Washington Square Theatre
1961 Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole Performer Ambassador Theatre
1963 Children From Their Games Sidney Balzer Morosco Theatre
1963 A Rainy Day in Newark Edward L. Voorhees Belasco Theater
1966 Sweet Charity Oscar Palace Theatre
1971-72 Follies Benjamin Stone Winter Garden Theatre
1972-73 The Great God Brown Dion Anthony Lyceum Theatre
1972-73 Don Juan Sganarelle
1973 Sondheim: A Musical Tribute Performer Benefit Concert, Shubert Theatre
1973-74 The Visit Anton Schill Ethel Barrymore Theatre
1973-74 Chemin de Fer Fedot
1974 Love for Love Foresight Helen Hayes Theatre
1974 The Rules of the Game Leone Gala
1980 Happy New Year Narrator Morosco Theater
1982 Solomon's Child Allan Little Theatre
1982 A Little Family Business Ben Martin Beck Theatre
1989 Artist Descending a Staircase Donner Helen Hayes Theatre
1994-97 Show Boat Cap'n Andy Gershwin Theatre
1998 High Society Uncle Willie St. James Theatre
2002 Into the Woods Mysterious Man/Narrator Broadhurst Theatre
2004 Passion Doctor Tambourri Special benefit concert
2006 Grey Gardens J.V. "Major" Bouvier
Norman Vincent Peale
Walter Kerr Theatre
2007 Is He Dead? Papa Leroux Lyceum Theatre
2009 Chance & Chemistry Performer Minskoff Theatre
2010 Sondheim: The Birthday Concert Performer New York Philharmonic
2010 A Free Man of Color Thomas Jefferson Vivian Beaumont Theatre
2011 Anything Goes Elisha Whitney Stephen Sondheim Theatre
2014 All the Way Richard Russell, Jr. Neil Simon Theatre


Year Title Role Venue
1959 Little Mary Sunshine Cpl."Billy" Jester Cherry Lane Theatre
1964 Too Much Johnson Mr. Billings Phoenix Theatre
1977 The Misanthrope Alceste The Public Theatre
1988 Julius Caesar Julius Caesar
2005 Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story Parole Board (voiceover) York Theatre
2006 Grey Gardens Major Bouvier
Norman Vincent Peale
Playwrights Horizons
2006 Indian Blood Eddie's Grandfather Primary Stages Theatre
2008 Saturn Returns Performer Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre
2013 The Explorer's Club Performer Manhattan Theatre Club

Other Theatre Credits

Year Title Role Venue
1977 Follies Benjamin Stone National Tour
1991 A Little Night Music Frederick Egerman Berkshire Theatre Festival
Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles
1996-98 Show Boat Cap'n Andy National Tour
2002 The Visit Anton Goodman Theatre, Chicago,
2010 Paradise Found Shah West End

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title Result
1960 Theatre World Award Little Mary Sunshine Won
1966 Tony Award Best Featured Actor - Musical Sweet Charity Nominated
1973 Best Featured Actor in a Play Don Juan Nominated
1973 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance Won
1973 Outstanding Performance The Great God Brown Won
1995 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Show Boat Nominated
1998 Best Featured Actor in a Musical High Society Nominated
1998 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Nominated
1998 Outer Critics Circle Award Best Featured Actor in a Musical Nominated
2002 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Into the Woods Nominated
2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Grey Gardens Nominated
2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Anything Goes Nominated
2014 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play All the Way Nominated



  1. ^ a b Simonson, Robert (July 7, 2016). "John McMartin, Seasoned Stage Actor, Dies at 86". Playbill. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  2. ^ Some sources inaccurately cite the date as November 18, 1929.
  3. ^ a b Grimes, William (2016-07-12). "John McMartin, 86, versatile and prolific actor of stage, screen". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent. The New York Times movie review, Sweet Charity, April 2, 1969
  6. ^ "'Follies' listing, Broadway 1971",; accessed August 26, 2012
  7. ^ "1990-91 SEASON; A Little Night Music, April 18-June 30, 1991"[permanent dead link] (, accessed August 26, 2012
  8. ^ Willis, John. "Ahmanson Theatre" Theatre World 1990-1991, Vol. 47 (, Hal Leonard Corporation, 1992, ISBN 1557831254, p. 121
  9. ^ O'Connor, Thomas. "REVIEW;'Night Music' makes its way to Doolittle", Orange County Register (California), April 19, 1991, SHOW; p. 18.
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Fifth Time the Charm for John McMartin?: 'Into the Woods' Star Talks Sondheim", Playbill, May 23, 2002
  11. ^ "'Into the Woods', 2002 Broadway Revival Production",, accessed August 26, 2012
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Rich, Frank (December 16, 1982). "'Family Business', with Angela Lansbury". The New York Times. p. C15.
  14. ^ Lefkowitz, David. "John McMartin Returning to 'Show Boat' Nov. 5" Archived February 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, October 28, 1996
  15. ^ Haun, Harry. "Uncle Of The Bride: John McMartin in 'High Society'" Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine Playbill, May 21, 1998
  16. ^ Suskin, Steven (March 9, 2010). "Frank Loesser". Show Tunes: The Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway's Major Composers. Oxford University Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-1998-8615-9.
  17. ^ Lardner, James (October 10, 1979). "Taking Another Stand on 'Custer'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  18. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Bow Voyage Extended: 'Anything Goes' Will Steam Into April 2012, With Sutton Foster on the Bow", Playbill, September 19, 2011.
  19. ^ a b John McMartin at IMDb
  20. ^ "John McMartin Obituary". The New York Times. July 6, 2016.
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Redgrave, Schwartz, Lloyd Webber and More Inducted Into Theater Hall of Fame Jan. 25". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved August 25, 2019.

External links[edit]