Blyden in 1962.
|Born||Ivan Lawrence Blieden
June 23, 1925
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Died||June 6, 1975
|Occupation||Actor/Game show host|
|Spouse(s)||Carol Haney (1955–1962)|
Joshua Blyden (1957–2000)Ellen (1960- )
Born Ivan Lawrence Blieden in Houston, Texas, Blyden, a practicing Jew, was married to actress and dancer Carol Haney (1925–1964) between 1955 and 1962. The couple had two children: Joshua (1957-2000) and Ellen (1960- ). Their relationship was tempestuous, and they divorced two years before her death.
Blyden and Haney resided in the historic Achenbach House in Saddle River, New Jersey, which they believed to be haunted by the spirit of its builder. The house was later sold to tour operator Mario Perillo and was destroyed by fire in 2004.
Blyden's career had three distinct phases. For most of his career, he was known as a character actor on television and on Broadway. Other television work he did included starring in one situation comedy, Harry's Girls, which ran on NBC for fifteen episodes from 1963 to 1964. In this adaptation of the Robert E. Sherwood play Idiot's Delight, he starred as Harry, a vaudeville style performer constantly getting into trouble and falling in love.
He made guest performances on such dramatic anthology shows as Playhouse 90, Omnibus, and The Loretta Young Show along with The Twilight Zone and other non-anthology dramatic programs. In a 1965 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called "Wally the Beard," he portrayed a meek, balding man whose life undergoes many changes, including a murder, once he begins wearing a toupee and beard while changing his appearance and identity. In 1965 he was featured in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., "The Waverly Ring Affair", as a suspected double agent.
Blyden was also a stage actor who appeared both on Broadway and off-Broadway. His first Broadway role was in Wish You Wish Here. In 1958, he was in the original cast of Flower Drum Song as the slick Sammy Fong, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. The show was choreographed by his wife, and Blyden replaced Larry Storch in the role during out-of-town tryouts. He starred in shows such as Mister Roberts, succeeding David Wayne as Ensign Frank Pulver, Foxy, The Apple Tree (as the snake), You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, and a revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with Phil Silvers), for which Blyden won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for the role of the slave Hysterium.
Late in his career, he became a game-show presenter and "emcee," or master of ceremonies, starting with Personality in 1967. He also hosted You're Putting Me On, The Movie Game, and finally and most successfully, What's My Line?. Blyden also had a brief, and rather uneventful, film career. In 1974, Blyden appeared in a play in New Haven, Connecticut with the Yale Repertory Theatre. A musical comedy named The Frogs, by Burt Shevelove, and freely based on a play written by Aristophanes in 405 B.C., its music had been composed, and its lyrics written, by Stephen Sondheim. Blyden played Dionysos.
In the weeks before his death, Blyden was involved in several major projects. He co-hosted the Tony Awards telecast on April 20, 1975. That May 2, Blyden reprised his role as Ensign Pulver opposite Henry Fonda at a gala tribute to director Joshua Logan at Broadway's Imperial Theatre (which was recorded and eventually released on a privately distributed LP album). Having been hired as host of the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman game show Showoffs, Blyden left the cast of the Broadway production of the Alan Ayckbourn comedy Absurd Person Singular and videotaped a pilot for the game show on May 24. He also prerecorded a segment of CBS's Bicentennial Minute which aired during primetime the evening of May 30.
On May 30, 1975, Blyden was vacationing in Morocco. While driving to Tan-Tan on the 31st to shop for native jewelry, his rental car reportedly went off the road and overturned, knocking him unconscious. Doctors in an Agadir hospital were initially unable to contact Blyden's family, as Blyden had been carrying no identification. Blyden died on June 6, 1975, less than three weeks before he would have turned 50. Another theory regarding Blyden's death has been suggested. On the commentary track of the 2009 DVD release of Blyden's TV production of What Makes Sammy Run? (1959), his co-star Barbara Rush claimed Blyden had been carjacked in Morocco and killed on the spot for his vehicle.
- Bloom and Vlastnik, p. 207
- Fisher, Janon. "Bergen County House on Historic Register Is Fire Victim", The New York Times, March 20, 2004. Accessed February 4, 2012. "In the 1960s, the private house, known as the Achenbach House, was the home of the actor and producer Larry Blyden and his wife, the actress and dancer Carol Haney, who believed the house was haunted. Later it was owned by Mario Perillo of Perillo Tours, well known for his television commercials selling package tours to Italy; after his death, the house passed to Mr. Perillo's son Stephen, the current owner."
- Original program from this production by the Yale Repertory Theatre.
- Game Shows '75: Showoffs
- Block, Geoffrey (2003). Richard Rodgers. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09747-6.
- "Larry Blyden, 49, Dies in Morocco of Injuries Sustained in Auto Accident". Variety. 9 June 1975. Archived from the original on 2005-04-04. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- Gardner, Paul (1974-05-19). "'Frogs' They Would A-Swimming Go". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- Fates, Gil (1978). What's My Line: The Inside History of TV's Most Famous Panel Show. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-955146-8.
- Larry Blyden at Find a Grave
- Larry Blyden at the Internet Broadway Database
- Larry Blyden at the Internet Movie Database
- Discography at SonyBMG Masterworks
- Blyden as a guest on Password on YouTube
|Host of What's My Line?