Tony Nominee Paxton Whitehead Passes Away at 85 | Playbill

Obituaries Tony Nominee Paxton Whitehead Passes Away at 85

The British actor racked up an impressive number of Broadway credits, both as a performer and as a writer.

Paxton Whitehead

Tony nominee Paxton Whitehead has passed away. He was 85. The news was confirmed via the actor's son, Charles Whitehead, by The Hollywood Reporter.

A noted actor, writer, and dramaturg, Mr. Whitehead worked on nearly 20 Broadway productions, ranging from George Bernard Shaw's Candida to Theresa Rebeck's Bernhardt/Hamlet in 2018. Classically trained at London's Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Mr. Whitehead was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which inadvertently lead him to Broadway in 1962 as a member of The Affair.

Shortly after, he replaced the late Jonathan Miller in Beyond The Fringe on Broadway, kickstating his decades-long association with the North American theatre. He directed for the American Shakespeare Company, adapted both of Georges Feydeau's French plays There's One in Every Marriage and Chemin de Fer for the English stage, and appeared on Broadway in a number of starring roles throughout the 1970s, including as Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood.

Perhaps the longest lasting association of Mr. Whitehead's, however, was that of George Bernard Shaw. Mr. Whitehead became the artistic director of Ontario's Shaw Festival in 1967, leading the only repertory company in the world dedicated to the Shaw's works. During Mr. Whitehead's tenure, he organized the building of a purpose-built 869 seat theatre, which dramatically increased the audience capacity for the festival, which continues to operate in the space to this day. Mr. Whitehead retired from the position in 1977, but remained indelibly linked to the work of Shaw, appearing on Broadway and regional stages in a number of his plays, including the 1993 revival of My Fair Lady, based on Shaw's Pygmalion.

In 1980, Mr. Whitehead obtained both a Tony and Drama Desk nomination for his performance as Pellinore opposite Richard Burton in Camelot. In 1984, he won the Drama Desk for his performance in the farce Noises Off, where he was honored for his ensemble work alongside Victor Garber, Dorothy Loudon, Douglas Seale, Deborah Rush, and more.

On screen, Mr. Whitehead appeared in a number of long-running sitcoms, including Frasier, Caroline in the City, Ellen, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Drew Carey Show, Mad About You, and Friends. In his later years, Mr. Whitehead continued to work on the stage, appearing at various points on Broadway and throughout the Tri-State area. 

Mr. Whitehead was predeceased by both of his wives, Patricia Gage and Katherine Robinson. He is survived by his two children.

Look Back at Christine Ebersole and Richard Burton in Camelot on Broadway

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