Michael Jeter, an Emmy- and Tony-winning actor beloved by children and parents for his portrayal of the Other Mr. Noodle on “Sesame Street,” died Sunday at his Hollywood Hills home. He was 50.
The actor was found dead apparently of natural causes; the exact cause and time of death are being determined.
Lawrenceberg, Tenn., native discovered his love and talent for acting at Memphis State U., where he had begun medical studies. After graduation, he moved to New York and won his first acting job, a small role in Milos Forman’s 1979 film adaptation of the musical “Hair.”
He made his Broadway debut in “One in a Lifetime” in 1978, and won the Theater World Award the next year for his role as Straw in “G.R. Point.” In 1990, he collected a Tony, an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award and the Clarence Derwent Prize for his featured role as a dying clerk who visits Berlin for one last fling in the Broadway musical “Grand Hotel.”
Among his other notable theater credits are the Off- Broadway presentations of Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud 9,” “Greater Tuna,” and “The Master and Margarita.” He also spent a year as a guest artist with the renowned Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.Besides his role on “Sesame Street,” which he continued up to his death, TV auds knew Jeter for his role as assistant football coach Herman Stiles opposite Burt Reynolds in the popular CBS sitcom “Evening Shade.” He won an Emmy for this supporting role in 1992 and was nommed twice more during his run on the show.
He made many TV guest appearances as well, and twice snared Emmy noms as best actor in a guest role, for a 1993 appearance on “Picket Fences” and a 1995 turn on “Chicago Hope.”
Jeter also compiled a long list of feature credits. He won critical praise for his performance as an outrageous cabaret singer in Terry Gilliam’s “The Fisher King” and for his portrayal of a condemned killer in “The Green Mile.” His recent film credits also include “Welcome to Collinwood,” Sam Raimi’s “The Gift” and “Jurassic Park III.”
At the time of his death, Jeter had nearly completed filming his role in director Robert Zemeckis’ “The Polar Express”; out of respect for his passing, filming was suspended Monday. His few remaining shots will be filmed with a stand-in.
He is survived by his life partner, Sean Blue; his parents; his brother; and four sisters.Contributions may be directed to AIDS Project Los Angeles, with which Jeter worked for more than a decade.