Veteran actor was original star of 'Equus'

Michael Higgins, veteran actor on and off-Broadway as well as in TV and feature films, died Nov. 5 in New York. He had been hospitalized while he recovered from a fall at his Manhattan apartment. He was 88.

A two-time Obie Award winner, Higgins is perhaps best known for creating the role of Frank Strang in the original Broadway production of “Equus.”

Other Broadway appearances include “Whose Life Is It Anyway” and “Mixed Couples” with Julie Harris and Geraldine Page.

Higgins appeared in numerous productions of O’Neill’s plays including “The Iceman Cometh” with James Earl Jones and opposite Helen Hayes’ in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

He also appeared in Mike Nichol’s Broadway production of “Uncle Vanya” and in the world premiere of Simon Gray’s “Molly” at the first Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

Higgins began performing as a teenager and then served in WWII. He made his Broadway debut after the war with Katharine Cornell in “Candida” in 1946, then appeared in “Romeo and Juliet” with Olivia de Havilland and “The Lark” with Julie Harris.

Higgins appeared in off Broadway productions including “Cleopatra” at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, The Seagull” with Richard Thomas and Richard II with William Hurt. He won an Obie for playing John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and another for his portrayal of the father in David Mamet’s “Reunion,” with Lindsay Crouse.

His films include Barbara Loden’s 1970 “Wanda,” which won the Venice Film Festival award, and for which he received actor and supporting actor nominations by the National Society of Film Critics in New York.

His other films include Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation,” “Fort Apache The Bronx,” “Angel Heart,” “School Ties,” as well as Horton Foote’s trilogy: “1918,” “On Valentine’s Day” and “Courtship” and David Mamet’s “State and Main.” More recently he appeared in the director’s cut of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” “Synecdoche, New York” and “The Savages.”

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Elizabeth Lee Goodwin; two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren.

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