Comic Scene-Stealer Michael McGrath Dies at 65

The Tony-winning actor appeared in SpamalotNice Work If You Can Get It, and a dozen more Broadway shows.

Michael McGrath
Michael McGrath
(© David Gordon)

Tony Award winner Michael McGrath died unexpectedly in his sleep on Thursday, September 14. He was 65.

Over the course of his career, McGrath appeared in 14 Broadway shows, making his debut in the Ahrens and Flaherty musical My Favorite Year in 1993. He stood by for Martin Short in The Goodbye Girl and Little Me, and also served as Short’s sidekick on his short-lived talk show in 1999.

McGrath is perhaps best known for having originated the role of the coconut-clacking servant Patsy in Monty Python’s Spamalot, singing the beloved “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” eight times a week with Tim Curry as King Arthur. That role would mark McGrath’s first Tony nomination; he won Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2012 for his scene-stealing turn in Nice Work If You Can Get It.

Also on Broadway, McGrath appeared in Wonderful TownBorn YesterdaySwinging on a StarTootsieShe Loves Me, and Memphis. He stood by for Nathan Lane in The Front Page and Matthew Broderick in Plaza Suite, which marked his last Broadway show. He was the narrator in the out-of-town run of Once Upon a One More Time, played Ralph Kramden in the Paper Mill Playhouse musical version of The Honeymooners, and made his final stage appearance as Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors at the Muny this summer.

McGrath was a longtime veteran of Forbidden Broadway; doing that show is how he met his wife, actor Toni DiBuono. She survives him, as does their daughter, Katie.