Warren Frost, the character actor best known for his role as Dr. Will Hayward on “Twin Peaks,” died Friday after a long illness at his home in Middlebury, Vt. He was 91.
Frost had recently come out of retirement to reprise his “Twin Peaks” role for the sequel to the ABC series that is set to debut on Showtime in May. Frost was the father of Mark Frost, the co-creator with filmmaker David Lynch of the revered mystery-fantasy franchise.
Warren Frost had a long career before and after the original “Twin Peaks.” He logged a memorable guest role on “Seinfeld,” playing the father of George Constanza’s fiancee in five episodes. He also limned a recurring character on the Andy Griffith legal drama “Matlock” and had guest shots on series including “The Larry Sanders Show,” “L.A. Law” and “Murphy Brown.”
“We’re saddened today to announce the passing of our dear old dad, Warren Frost,” Mark Frost said. “From the Normandy shores on D-Day to his 50-year career on stage and screen, he remained the same humble guy from Vermont who taught us that a life devoted to telling the right kind of truths can make a real difference in the lives of others. We’re grateful to have shared him with the world for as long as we did.”
Born in Massachusetts in 1925, Frost spent his early years in the Bronx before moving to Vermont. He joined the Navy at the age of 17 after graduating from high school in 1942. He spent three years as a First Class Petty Officer and was part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, with his ship serving a minesweeper in advance of the Allied armada to come.
Frost discovered his love of acting and the love of his life — Virginia Calhoun, his wife of 68 years — while attending Middlebury College in Vermont on the G.I. Bill after the war. He and Calhoun did summer stock around New England before moving to New York City. Frost got a job working behind the scenes at CBS, which led to a three-year stint as floor director and stage manager for “Philco Playhouse,” where Frost worked with such luminaries as Sidney Lumet, John Frankenheimer and George Roy Hill.
Frost moved to the West Coast in 1958 and resumed his acting career, appearing in “Perry Mason” and “Dragnet,” among other shows. After earning a master’s degree in theater arts at Occidental College, Frost moved to Minneapolis to pursue his doctorate. He joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota and became a regular in the city theater’s scene, directing and appearing in plays including several that he wrote.
By 1988 Frost was back in New York City where he appeared for a year on the CBS daytime soap “As the World Turns.” The following year, he was drafted for his signature role on “Twin Peaks” as the doctor in the titular small town where strange things happen. After “Twin Peaks,” Frost had his most prominent roles in primetime series.
Frost retired in 2000 in Vermont, although he continued to appear on stage in his own one-man shows.
In addition to his wife and son Mark, Frost is survived by son Scott, a novelist and photographer; daughter Lindsay Frost, an actress and artist; and three grandsons.