John McMartin, the longtime Broadway staple and film and TV charactor actor who was part of the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies and starred in Sweet Charity on both the stage and the screen, has died. He was 86. The five-time Tony nominee had cancer, according to The New York Times.
His last Broadway role was playing conservative Sen. Richard Russell opposite Bryan Cranston in All the Way, which earned Cranston the Best Actor Tony in 2014. Cranston reprised his role in this year’s HBO movie; Frank Langella played Russell on the small screen.
McMartin was a notable character actor on film and TV over six decades, and he reprised his role in Sweet Charity opposite Shirley MacLaine in the 1969 big-screen transfer (Gwen Verdon was the female lead on the stage). He also played the Foreign Editor in those great newsroom scenes in All the President’s Men. His many TV credits included soap opera As the World Turns in the early 1960s; Falcon Crest; opposite fellow Broadway star Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote; and Law & Order. According to IMDb, his last TV credit was as Ellie Kemper’s dashing blind date in Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt last season.
On Broadway, he worked with such icons as Sondheim, Harold Prince and Bob Fosse. His theater credits include the 1973 revival of Moliere’s Don Juan, Prince’s Show Boat, High Society and Into The Woods as the narrator. All earned him Tony noms. He also was in the musical Grey Gardens, played Thomas Jefferson in Free Man of Color, and was in the 1974 revival of The Visit directed by Prince (and later again in the musical version from Kander & Ebb).