The theater and Hollywood worlds are both in mourning this week after it was revealed that John McMartin, one of the most recognized actors of Broadway and television, passed away on Wednesday. He was 86 years-old.
Charlotte Moore, McMartin’s companion and the artistic director of the Irish Repertory Theater, told the New York Times that the cause of death was cancer.
McMartin was best known for his role as the shy tax accountant in both the stage and film versions of Sweet Charity as well as his starring role in the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies. He was also a favorite of legendary choreographer Bob Fosse and the producer and director Harold Prince.
Born in 1929 in Indiana, McMartin enlisted in the Army after graduating high school and began performing in service shows. It was there that he caught the acting bug, so he began performing in theater shows immediately after he was discharged. He made his Broadway debut in 1966 in Sweet Charity and continued working on the stage all the way up until 2011.
McMartin did not like to act in movies, but he appeared in a few such as 1976’s All the President’s Men and 2004’s Kinsey. After these film appearances, McMartin always rushed back to the state, which is where his true passion lay. When he was asked personally by Prince to join the cast of the hit show Showboat, McMartin initially argued that he was not right for the role of Cap’n Andy, but he eventually relented.
“I love it when Cap’n Andy says in the last act, ‘The lucky people are the ones that get to do what they enjoy doin’,’” McMartin said. “That’s the way I feel about my work. I’m one of the lucky people.”