Broadway musical performer Paul Michael died July 8 of heart failure in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 84.
Michael began his professional career as an opera singer after studying voice with Metropolitan Opera star John Brownlee. He worked with independent opera companies in New York until he won a co-starring role with Judy Holliday in the hit musical “Bells Are Ringing” in 1956.
Michael eventually had roles in major Broadway musicals including “Whoop Up,” “13 Daughters,” “Bajour,” “Do Re Me,” “Tovarich,” “Fade Out – Fade In,” ‘”Arturo Ui,” “Zorba” and “Man of La Mancha.”
In those shows, he worked with the likes of Vivien Leigh, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Ginger Rogers, Don Ameche, Phil Silvers, Christopher Plummer, Marilyn Maxwell, Melina Mercouri and Richard Kiley.
Later, he became a major theatrical figure on the road, performing Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” in more than 1,000 performances around the country.
Born in Providence, R.I., Michael began singing at age 4 in school productions. He served as a sergeant in the Army in the South Pacific during WWII; later, under the G.I. Bill, he received a B.A. in English literature from Brown U.
In between theater appearances, he augmented his income with stints as editor of a weekly newspaper, minority programs evaluator for the Ford Foundation and numerous other jobs.
Michael starred in the brief television series “Muggsy” and played a continuing role in the popular soap “Dark Shadows.” He had a recurring role on “Hill Street Blues” and guested on “Kojak,” “Seinfeld,” “Frasier” and “General Hospital.”
His film appearances include “Masque of the Red Death,” “Pennies From Heaven,” “Music Within” and the title role in “The Streetsweeper,” yet to be released.
In recent years, he and his companion of 23 years, Marion Ross of “Happy Days,” starred together in the Hallmark movie “Where There’s a Will” and in theatrical appearances at San Diego’s the Globe and Kansas City’s New Theater in “Barefoot in the Park,” “Love Letters” and Joe DePietro’s “Over the River and Through the Woods.” When playwright DePietro (Tony winner for best musical “Memphis”) saw them in his play “Over the River and Through the Woods,” he was so impressed that he wrote for them “The Last Romance,” which premiered in Kansas City and then opened the new theater in the round at the Globe last year.
In addition to Ross, his immediate survivors are sons Matt and Greg Michael.
Donations may be made to ONE, the Organization for the Needs of the Elderly.
Michael’s funeral will be held Tuesday, July 19, at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Lebanon, 333 S. San Vicente, Los Angeles.