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John McMartin

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John McMartin
McMartin in July 2011
John Francis McMartin

(1929-08-21)August 21, 1929
DiedJuly 6, 2016(2016-07-06) (aged 86)
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Years active1956–2015
Cynthia Baer
(m. 1960; div. 1971)
PartnerCharlotte 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 St. Cloud, Minnesota. After graduating from high school, he joined the United States Army and became a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division. He attended Columbia College Chicago, but did not graduate and 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.

McMartin's 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.

McMartin 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 continued, as he appeared in A Little Night Music as Frederick at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, in 1991.[7][8] The reviewer for the Orange County Register wrote that McMartin was "aggressively deadpan as her rediscovered old flame".[9]

He appeared in the first Broadway revival of Into the Woods in 2002, in the dual role of the Narrator and the 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 its three Broadway seasons in the early 1970s, appearing onstage in Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown (opposite Katherine Helmond), Molière's Dom Juan, and Luigi Pirandello's The Rules of the Game.

McMartin played Anton Schell opposite Chita Rivera in Kander and Ebb's musical The Visit 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 (2010–11), and Elisha Whitney in the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, opposite Jessica Walter.[18]

On television, McMartin appeared on the soap opera As the World Turns as Ed Rice. He was later in the CBS drama East Side West Side and 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 as the Rev. Dr. Dan Bradford on The Bob Newhart Show in "Somebody Down Here Likes Me". He appeared on Cheers in "The Visiting Lecher". He appeared as radio personality Fletcher Grey on Frasier. He appeared in four episodes of Murder, She Wrote. He also appeared as Shirley Jones's love interest in The Partridge Family episode "When Mother Gets Married".[19]

McMartin's film roles include the foreign editor in All the President's Men (1976), a senator in Brubaker (1980), a political advisor in Blow Out (1981), and millionaire Mr. Forrester in Legal Eagles (1986).[19]


McMartin died of cancer in Manhattan on July 6, 2016, aged 86.[1][20] He was survived by his two daughters from his marriage, and his longtime 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 Robert 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 Bill Wilks Episode: "Ride with Terror"
1963 Ride with Terror Bill Wilks 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 / Professor 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 Episode: "Love and the Duel/Love and the Note/Love and the Young Unmarrieds"
1971 God Bless Mr. Ferguson Performer Television movie
1973 The Bob Newhart Show Reverend Daniel Bradford Episode: "Somebody Down Here Likes Me"
1974 Harry O Jordan Briggs Episode: "The Admiral's Lady"
1975 Cannon Senator Arlen Andrews Episode: "Nightmare"
1975 Fear on Trial Tom Murray Television movie
1975–76 Phyllis Jerome Patterson 2 episodes
1975–81 Great Performances Leone Gala / Teddy Wharton 2 episodes
1976 Fay Dr. Walter 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"
1982–84 American Playhouse Paul Melton / William Marbury 2 episodes
1983 The Last Ninja Mr. Cosmo Television movie
1984–86 Magnum, P.I. Jason Bryan / Bill Campbell 2 episodes
1985–86 Falcon Crest Julian J. Roberts 8 episodes
1985–91 Murder, She Wrote Various roles 4 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"
1990–92 Coach Judge Watkins 2 episodes
1991 Separate but Equal Governor James F. Byrnes Television miniseries
1992 Empty Nest Reverend Chambers Episode: "The Son of a Preacherman"
1992 Citizen Cohn Older Doctor Television movie
1992 Sisters J.D. Fitzway Episode: "Portrait of the Artists"
1992–2009 Law & Order Various roles 5 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 Senator Joseph Grady Episode: "The Thanksgiving Show"
2000 Oz Lars Nathan 2 episodes
2001 Further Tales of the City Royal Reichenbach 3 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 Captain Mal Malcolm 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 The Mysterious Man / The 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 Explorers Club Professor Sloane Manhattan Theatre Club

Other theatre credits[edit]

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
2001 The Visit Anton Goodman Theatre, Chicago
2002 Into the Woods The Mysterious Man / The Narrator Ahmanson Theatre
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", sondheimguide.com; accessed August 26, 2012
  7. ^ "1990-91 SEASON; A Little Night Music, April 18-June 30, 1991"[permanent dead link] centertheatregroup.org , accessed August 26, 2012
  8. ^ Willis, John. "Ahmanson Theatre" Theatre World 1990–1991, Vol. 47 (books.google.com), 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", sondheimguide.com, 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 978-0-19-988615-9.
  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 7, 2016. Archived from the original on July 13, 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]