×

Roger Rees, Actor in ‘Cheers,’ ‘West Wing,’ ‘Nicholas Nickelby,’ Dies at 71

Cheers” and “The West Wing” actor Roger Rees, who won a Tony for “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby,” died Friday in New York. He was 71.

The New York Times’ Scott Heller tweeted the news late Friday.

A statement from Rees’ publicist, quoted by Heller, read: “Roger Rees, Tony Award-winning actor, passed away tonight at home, after a brief illness.”

Rees took the lead role in “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby,” which played in London and on Broadway from 1980 to 1982. He won an Olivier Award and a Tony for his performance, and reprised the part in a 1982 TV version, which was produced by Colin Callender. Rees was nominated for an Emmy, and the production won the Emmy for outstanding limited series.

Later TV roles included as wealthy Brit Robin Colcord in “Cheers,” and the British ambassador, Lord John Marbury, in “The West Wing.” Other TV performances included as Thomas Paine in TV miniseries “Liberty! The American Revolution,” and roles in two sci-fi series: “M.A.N.T.I.S.,” which was created by Sam Hamm and Sam Raimi, and “Warehouse 13.”

Movie appearances included roles in Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” in which he played the Sheriff of Rottingham, and in Steve Martin’s “The Pink Panther” and Salma Hayek’s “Frida.”

The actor, who was born in Aberystwyth, Wales in 1944, is survived by his husband, the playwright Rick Elice. The couple’s life together was profiled by Michael Schulman in a 2012 article in the New Yorker. Elice co-wrote, with Marshall Brickman, the books for “Jersey Boys” and “The Addams Family,” in which Rees starred as Gomez.

Rees was artistic director for three seasons at Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Mass., which he left in 2007. Rees also directed for the stage. He co-directed, with Alex Timbers, Elice’s adaptation of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a prequel to “Peter Pan.” The production was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning five, in 2012.

In 2013 he won acclaim for his role in the Roundabout Theater Company revival of “The Winslow Boy,” and in the months before he died he co-starred with Chita Rivera in “The Visit.” He was forced to leave the production in May due to his illness.

More Legit

  • Mark Rylance Oscars 2016

    'Bridge of Spies' Actor Mark Rylance Leads Union Drive for Coronavirus Relief Donations

    U.K. entertainment industry union Equity has pledged £1 million ($1.2 million) to support its members who have been affected by the pandemic-induced industry shutdown. Equity is asking for more donations, stating that the vast majority of its 47,000 members earn modest sums and do not have savings as a fall-back option. The appeal for further [...]

  • Directors Coronavirus

    Economic Package For Freelancers Elicits Mixed Response From U.K. Industry

    The long-awaited economic measures for the self-employed revealed by U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Thursday have elicited mixed response from the film and TV industry’s predominantly freelance workforce. Self-employed individuals can claim 80% of their average income over the last three years up to £2,500 ($3,000) a month, which is taxable. To [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    Critic’s Notebook: The Night Before Broadway Went Dark

    Let me preface this by saying the story I’m about to tell is not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Two weeks ago, I rushed to New York City to catch “The Inheritance” before it closed on Broadway. I’d been tracking the play by Matthew Lopez — a multigenerational, six-and-a-half-hour monument that resurrects E.M. Forster [...]

  • Mark Blum dead

    Mark Blum, 'Desperately Seeking Susan' Star, Dies From Coronavirus Complications

    Actor Mark Blum, who appeared in “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Crocodile Dundee” and the TV series “You,” has died due to complications from coronavirus. He was 69. The Playwrights Horizons theater group and SAG-AFTRA executive vice president Rebecca Damon confirmed the news on Thursday. It is with such deep sorrow that I’m writing to share the news [...]

  • U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi

    U.K. Chancellor Announces Emergency Measures for Freelancers

    The U.K. has finally announced an economic relief package for freelancers not in employment after much of the country’s creative industries shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a new self-employed income support scheme on Thursday. Self-employed individuals can claim 80% of their average income over the last three [...]

  • Celia Keenan-Bolger73rd Annual Tony Awards, Show,

    Tony Awards Postponed Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

    The Tony Awards are the latest industry event to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The American Theatre Wing, which backs the show, announced on Wednesday that the 74th edition of the annual celebration of the best of theater will be pushed back indefinitely. The ceremony was originally scheduled to air live on CBS, [...]

  • Debra Messing Golden Globes

    'Caroline, Or Change,' 'Birthday Candles' Postpone Broadway Runs Due to Coronavirus

    Roundabout Theatre Company is moving its hotly anticipated revival of “Caroline, Or Change” to the fall, as well as its upcoming production of “Birthday Candles” with Debra Messing. The shifts are an acknowledgment of a painful reality. Theaters in New York City have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and with the rate of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content