E.G. Marshall, two-time Emmy winner for the TV series “The Defenders,” died Monday night at his home in Mount Kisco, N.Y., after a short illness. He was 88.
Though he found his greatest success in TV, Marshall enjoyed a long and notable career in theater and film as well. He played one of the leads in the world premiere of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh” in 1948, and appeared with Bert Lahr in the Broadway preem of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.”
His film roles ranged from Sidney Lumet’s 1957 “Twelve Angry Men” to the 1982 George Romero-helmed “Creepshow.”
With his stern, craggy face and measured delivery, Marshall was usually cast as authority figures, such as doctors, lawyers and judges, and played such real-life personalities as Harry Truman and Joseph Kennedy. He was an expert in sympathetic power-brokers, such as the 1960s TV series “The Defenders,” in which he and Robert Reed played a father-son legal team who tackled such ground-breaking issues as abortion and blacklisting.
Marshall, who reprised the role recently in a series of specials for Showtime, won Emmys in 1962 and 1963 for his work on the series.
But the actor’s firm, WASP-ish demeanor was equally well used in roles as insensitive or villainous characters, such as the Arthur Penn-directed 1966 film “The Chase” and Woody Allen’s 1978 “Interiors.”
His other film credits include “The House on 92nd Street,” “The Caine Mutiny,” “Pushover,” “The Bachelor Party,” “Town Without Pity,” “The Bridge at Remagen,” “Compulsion,” “The Pursuit of Happiness,” “Billy Jack Goes to Washington” and “Superman II.” His most recent pic role was the Clint Eastwood-helmed “Absolute Power.”
His Broadway credits also include “The Skin of Our Teeth,” “The Survivors,” “The Crucible,” “Red Roses for Me,” “The Little Foxes,” “The Imaginary Invalid” and “John Gabriel Borkman.”
But it was in TV that he hit his stride. In the 1950s he became a fixture in weekly TV dramas such as “Playhouse 90” and he appeared in numerous dramas and telefilms, such as “The Plot to Kill Stalin,” “The Poppy Is Also a Flower,” “The Lazarus Syndrome” and “Eleanor, First Lady of the World.”
He also was much in demand as the narrator or host for TV documentaries, such as National Geographic specials, “Mysteries of the Mind,” “Gorilla,” “The Sharks,” “Egypt — Quest for Eternity,” “Polar Bear Alert” and “The Thames.”
Everett Marshall was born June 18, 1910, in Owatonna, Minn., the son of a telephone company worker.
Educated at Carlton College and the U. of Minnesota, he began acting with touring Shakespeare companies and first studied acting in Gotham’s Actors Studio in 1940.
Marshall’s second wife, Judy, and two children were with him when he died.