Charles Siebert, the actor who played the pompous Dr. Stanley Riverside II on the CBS medical drama series Trapper John, M.D., died May 1 of Covid-related pneumonia at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. He was 84.
His death was confirmed in a statement on the website of the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, California, where Siebert appeared frequently.
Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Siebert made his Broadway debut in a 1967 production of Brecht’s Galileo and would return to the Broadway stage five more times through the following decade. He began his TV career in the late 1960s on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. By the mid-1970s he had appeared in such series as Hawk, N.Y.P.D., Another World, The Adams Chronicles, Kojak, Police Woman and The Rockford Files.
In 1977 he recurred on the Norman Lear soap parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, later guesting on other Lear series including All in the Family, Good Times, Maude and One Day at a Time.
In 1979 he landed what would become his signature role in the M*A*S*H spinoff Trapper John, M.D., playing opposite stars Pernell Roberts (in the title role) and Gregory Harrison. Siebert’s character served as the persnickety, stuffy but talented foil to the more laid-back doctors played by Roberts and Harrison, following in the M*A*S*H tradition of Larry Linville’s Dr. Frank Burns and David Ogden Stiers’ Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III.
The show was a hit in its 10 p.m. Sunday slot, where it aired for the first six-plus seasons, consistently ranking in the full-season Top 20 in the three-network universe. Siebert remained with the series throughout its entire 1979-86 run.
He would return to television throughout the 1980s and ’90s, appearing in The Love Boat, The New Mike Hammer, Hotel, Mancuso FBI, Murder, She Wrote and Xena: Warrior Princess.
During his tenure on Trapper John, M.D., Siebert began a directing career that would include seven episodes of that series and, later, episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Silk Stalkings, Pacific Blue, Knots Landing, The Pretender and others.
On the big screen, Siebert appeared in, among others, The Other Side of Midnight (1977), Coma (1978), All Night Long (1981), and White Water Summer (1987). In 1979, he played an assistant district attorney in Norman Jewison’s legal satire … And Justice for All, starring Al Pacino.
On Broadway, Siebert appeared in 1968’s Jimmy Shine opposite Dustin Hoffman; David Rabe’s Sticks and Bones (1972); The Changing Room (1973); and the 1974 revival of Tennessee Williams‘ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starring Elizabeth Ashley, Fred Gwynne and Keir Dullea.
Siebert would return to the stage throughout his career, often at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, California, where he played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the artist Mark Rothko in the play Red, Big Daddy in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.
In the tribute posted on the theater’s website by artistic director Jared Sakren and former artistic director Craig A. Miller, Siebert was remembered as “generous to his castmates,” with “an engaging sense of humor, a wealth of experience and pure, unadulterated talent capable of delivering towering, unforgettable performances.”
“Anyone who had the honor and pleasure of sharing the stage with him knows that simply watching him work was a Masterclass in itself: pure heart, fiery passion, terrifying truth, and fearlessness – all on display, every moment he was out there,” the statement continues. “He was not only a consummate artist, he was a mentor to those who worked with him.”
Siebert is survived by wife Kristine Leroux Siebert, daughter Gillian Bozanic, son Christopher, stepdaughter Kristina Harvey, stepsons Max Leroux and Jeremy Leroux, and other extended family. He was predeceased by his first wife, Catherine, and son Charlie Jr., a popular Bay Area musician who died in 2020.
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