Cliff Gorman, who won a Tony for his portrayal of comedian Lenny Bruce on Broadway and fashioned a steady career as a stage, film and TV actor, died of leukemia Sept. 5 at his home in New York City. He was 65.
Queens, N.Y., native attended UCLA and the U, of New Mexico, where he took drama classes, then graduated from NYU with a degree in education. After college, he worked as a probation officer, a truck driver and an ambulance driver, but outside those jobs he continued to study acting and was a member of Jerome Robbins’ American Theater Lab in 1966-67.
His career took off in 1968 after he won an Obie for his Off Broadway portrayal of the flamboyant gay character Emory in “The Boys in the Band,” the role he also recreated in the 1970 film version.
The 1971 Broadway play “Lenny,” which followed Bruce’s career as a nightclub comedian through run-ins with the police and courts, was a smash, and Gorman’s work drew strong critical praise. (The role in the film version went to Dustin Hoffman.)
In 1978, Gorman was nominated for another Tony for his role as Leo in “Chapter Two,” the semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon.
He made his screen debut in George Cukor’s adaptation of “Justine,” released in 1969. He also appeared in Otto Preminger’s “Rosebud” (1975), “An Unmarried Woman” (1978) with Jill Clayburgh, “Night and the City” (1992) with Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange and “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” (1999).
He played Abbie Hoffman in a 1970 British TV program about the Chicago Eight and made guest appearances on such television shows as “Law and Order,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Police Story.”
He is survived by his wife, Gayle.