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Five-Time Tony Nominee John McMartin Dies at 86

The stage regular completed his career with two dozen Broadway credits to his name.

Five-time Tony nominee John McMartin has died at the age of 86.
(© David Gordon)

John McMartin, a five-time Tony nominee and regular on the Broadway stage for over five decades, has died at the age of 86.

McMartin was born November 18, 1929, in Warsaw, Indiana, and spent the majority of his childhood in Minnesota. He launched his theater career in 1959 with an off-Broadway debut in the musical Little Mary Sunshine as Corporal Billy Jester opposite Eileen Brennan and Elmarie Wendel — a role that earned him a Theatre World Award. He went on to marry one of the show's producers, Cynthia Baer, in 1960. The couple divorced in 1971 after having two daughters, Kathleen and Susan, who survive him.

The young actor then made his Broadway debut as Forrest Noble in the 1961 musical The Conquering Hero, followed by a role in the play Blood, Sweat, and Stanley Poole later that year. McMartin performed in a total of 24 Broadway productions throughout his career, earning Tony nominations for his roles in Sweet Charity (1966), Don Juan (1973), Show Boat (1995), High Society (1998), and Into the Woods (2002). He made his final Broadway appearance in 2014 as Senator Richard Russell in the Tony-winning history play All the Way.

Some of his other notable Broadway credits include Benjamin Stone in the original production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, J.V. "Major" Bouvier, Norman Vincent Peale in Grey Gardens opposite Christine Ebersole, Thomas Jefferson in the original cast of John Guare's A Free Man of Color, and Elisha Whitney in the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes, opposite Jessica Walter.

McMartin's first on-screen role was a two-year stint as Ed Rice on the daytime drama As the World Turns from 1961-63. He also enjoyed guest roles on a number of sitcoms including The Golden Girls, Cheers, Frasier, Murder She Wrote, and The Partridge Family, as well as several film credits, most notably All the President's Men, Kinsey, and the 2007 romantic comedy, No Reservations.


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