Actor Tom Poston dies at 85

Emmy winner best known for 'Newhart' role

Comic actor Tom Poston, who won an Emmy on “The Steve Allen Show” and was Emmy nommed for “Newhart,” “Mork and Mindy” and “Coach,” died April 30 in Los Angeles after a brief illness. He was 85.

Poston was best known for playing George Utley on “Newhart” and his guest appearances on “The Bob Newhart Show.” His Emmy win came in 1959 for his role playing the befuddled Everyman as part of the Allen’s stock company along with Don Knotts and Louie Nye.

He began his acting career in 1947 in Jose Ferrer’s Broadway production of “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Early in his career he was best known as a dramatic actor, appearing in productions such as the “Barretts of Wimpole Street” and “King Lear,” but soon became made the move to the golden age of television, hosting a live show called “Entertainment.” His work on that show led to joining the cast of “The Steve Allen Show.”

He had a recurring role in the series “Grace Under Fire” and appeared on TV shows including “Murphy Brown,” “That 70’s Show,” “Will & Grace,” “Becker” and “Good Morning Miami.” He was a longstanding panelist on “To Tell the Truth.”

Poston had roles in a number of Broadway productions and touring companies, appearing in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Bye, Bye Birdie,” “Drink To Me Only,” “Mary, Mary,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

His movie credits included “Princess Diaries II,” “Cold Turkey” and “Soldier in the Rain.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Poston attended Bethany College in West Virginia. He served as as a pilot in the Air Force during WWII. After the war, he enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Art followed by professional classes with the acting teacher Sanford Meisner.

Poston is survived by his wife actress Suzanne Pleshette; and two children, Francesca Hudson, an actress; and Jason Poston.

Donations may be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

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