Tony, Obie and Emmy winner Bill McCutcheon, also known for his many TV roles, died of natural causes Wednesday Jan. 9 at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J. He was 77.
Mahwah, N.J., resident won a Tony for his portrayal of gangster Moonface Martin in the 1988 revival of “Anything Goes,” received an Obie for his comedic portrayal of a stroke victim in Christopher Durang’s “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” and appeared in a revival of “The Front Page.”
On TV, he was featured in numerous commercials, was a regular on Dom DeLuise’s 1968 comedy-variety show, and earned three Daytime Emmys for his role as Uncle Wally on TV’s “Sesame Street.” Years earlier, he played Leo the Leprechaun on “Howdy Doody.”
In films, he played Shirley MacLaine’s husband in “Steel Magnolias” (1989), and also appeared in “Mr. Destiny” (1990) and “Family Business” (1989). His regional theater work took him from Denver to Baltimore, playing everything from Shaw to Moliere. He retired from showbiz in 1992, after his eight-year run on “Sesame Street.”
Russell, Ky., native formed a comedic jazz band in high school, was wounded in World War II service in Italy, studied acting at Ohio U. and started a dance band. Moving to New York, he formed a jazz comedy trio that played Catskill resorts and Manhattan jazz clubs. While working as an usher at CBS in 1954, he was asked to appear on Edward R. Murrow’s live “Person to Person” program, during which Murrow interviewed McCutcheon and his wife in their humble Greenwich Village apartment to contrast the life of a struggling unknown. McCutcheon’s unlikely appearance on the show generating interest from agents and landing him roles in live productions on “Studio One” and “Armstrong Circle Theatre.”
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Anne; a son; two daughters; and five grandchildren.