Stage and film actor George Grizzard, a frequent collaborator of Edward Albee and a Tony winner for the playwright’s “A Delicate Balance,” died Tuesday in New York of complications resulting from lung cancer. He was 79.
Grizzard debuted on Broadway alongside Paul Newman in 1955 play “The Desperate Hours.” He went on to originate the role of Nick in Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” which also starred Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill and Melinda Dillon. The 1996 revival of “A Delicate Balance” landed Grizzard a Tony for actor in a play.
Fittingly, Grizzard’s final Broadway role was in the 2005 Lincoln Center Theater revival of Albee’s “Seascape.” Starring opposite Frances Sternhagen, he played an elderly man looking wistfully back toward his species’ primordial roots.
Grizzard’s screen work began when the actor performed, again with Newman, in the 1960 film “From the Terrace.” He worked in movies only occasionally, but his credits include supporting roles in “Wonder Boys,” Woody Allen’s “Small Time Crooks” and, finally, Clint Eastwood’s WWII drama “Flags of Our Fathers,” in which he played the present-day incarnation of Ryan Phillippe’s character. Grizzard also had a recurring role on NBC’s “Law & Order” as attorney Arthur Gold.
Born in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., Grizzard grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended the U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1950, after a short stint at a D.C. ad agency, he began working with the Arena Stage in its debut season. Splitting his time between Washington and New York, Grizzard studied acting under Sanford Meisner.
Other Broadway credits included “California Suite,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “The Country Girl,” “Man and Superman” and “Judgment at Nuremberg.” His final stage role was in last season’s Off Broadway production of Paul Rudnick’s “Regrets Only” for Manhattan Theater Club.
Grizzard is survived by his partner, William Tynan.