Paul Ryan Rudd, Actor of Stage and Screen, Dies at 70
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: August 14, 2010
Paul Ryan Rudd, an actor of the 1970s and ’80s who came to his profession late and left it early but in between drew critical praise for his work on Broadway and in the New York Shakespeare Festival, died on Thursday at his home in Greenwich, Conn. He was 70.
Paul Ryan Rudd and Meryl Streep rehearsing in 1976.
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The cause was pancreatic cancer, his family said.
Billed throughout his career simply as Paul Rudd, Mr. Rudd was no relation to the younger contemporary film actor of that name. His Broadway credits include the Gentleman Caller in a 1975 revival of “The Glass Menagerie” starring Maureen Stapleton and Pamela Payton-Wright; Billy, the tortured young soldier, in the original cast of David Rabe’s “Streamers” in 1976; and Romeo opposite Ms. Payton-Wright in a 1977 “Romeo and Juliet” at the Circle in the Square Theater.
Reviewing the “Romeo and Juliet” in The New York Times, Clive Barnes wrote: “Paul Rudd makes a taut-nerved Romeo, his handsome face either tense with pain or almost consciously relaxed and sunny. He speaks the verse very well, with intelligent nuances, and his ardent death wish at the end is most impressive.”
With the New York Shakespeare Festival, Mr. Rudd played the title role in a 1976 summer production of “Henry V” at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The cast also included Meryl Streep and Philip Bosco.
To television viewers, Mr. Rudd was familiar as Brian Mallory, the scheming Irish-born chauffeur, in the short-lived series “Beacon Hill,” broadcast on CBS in 1975. Set in a wealthy Boston household in the 1920s, the show was intended to be an American answer to “Upstairs, Downstairs.”
Mr. Rudd played John F. Kennedy in the 1977 NBC movie “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.” He also appeared in “The Betsy,” the 1978 film based on the Harold Robbins novel.
Paul Kenneth Rudd was born in Boston on May 15, 1940. As a young man he adopted Ryan, his mother’s maiden name, as his middle name.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Fairfield University in Connecticut, Mr. Rudd briefly studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood before he and his seminary parted company by mutual consent. He went to work for a New York advertising agency but chafed there until, in his late 20s, he decided to try acting.
Mr. Rudd spent his early career with regional companies, including Hartford Stage and the Long Wharf Theater in Connecticut and Arena Stage in Washington. His first significant Broadway role was in 1974, in Peter Nichols’s dark satire “The National Health.” He played Ken, a motorcyclist lobotomized after a crash.
His other Broadway credits include a 1975 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” and the original production of John Guare’s comedy “Bosoms and Neglect” in 1979.
In the 1980s, Mr. Rudd had guest roles on “Hart to Hart,” “Moonlighting” and other television shows before leaving the profession in the middle of the decade to help rear his children.
Mr. Rudd’s first marriage, to Joan Mannion, ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Martha Bannerman, whom he married in 1983; their three children, Graeme, Kathryn and Eliza; and his mother, Kathryn Rudd.
In later years, Mr. Rudd taught theater, first at Sarah Lawrence College and, through last year, until his illness intervened, at the New School for Drama in New York.