George S. Irving
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(November 1, 1922-December 26, 2016)
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts
Birth name was George Irving Shelasky
Won the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for ‘Irene’ (1973)
Also appeared on Broadway in ‘Oklahoma!’ (1943), ‘Call Me Mister’ (1946-48), ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ (1949-51), Can-Can’ (1953-55), ‘Bells Are Ringing’ (1956-59), ‘Irma La Douce’ (1960-61), ‘An Evening with Richard Nixon and…’ (1972), ‘All Over Town’ (1974-75), ‘I Remember Mama’ (1979), ‘Copperfield’ (1981), ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ (1981-82), ‘On Your Toes’ (1983-84) and ‘Me and My Gal’ (1986-89)
Recurring role on All in the Family as Russ DeKuyper, husband of Edith Bunker’s cousin Amelia
Narrated the cartoon series ‘Underdog’ and several ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ audiobooks
Provided the voice of Heat Miser in the Rankin-Bass special ‘The Year Without a Santa Claus’ (1974)
Why he might be annoying
He did commercials for White Owl cigars – until he admitted to a reporter from ‘Esquire’ that he preferred a good Havana..
He said he almost passed out after Gwen Verdon accidentally stepped on his foot during ‘Can-Can.’ (‘She had beautiful legs, but they were like oak trees.’)
He reprised Heat Miser for the unnecessary sequel ‘A Miser Brothers Christmas’ (2008).
His response to being asked to write his memoirs: ‘Oh crap! I was just a journeyman actor.’
Why he might not be annoying
He was married to dancer and actress Maria Karnilova for 52 years until her death.
He was described by one critic as ‘the go to actor for accents of all kinds.’
He remained a frequent performer in regional theater and off-Broadway into his 80s and 90s.
He said, ‘Every show I do, the kids say ‘I know your voice, but I can't place it.’ And I just go ‘Tune in next week for another exciting episode of Underdog.’ and they go ‘Yes!’’
Credit: C. Fishel
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