Tony Award winning actor George S. Irving died December 26 – just one day before “Irene” co-star Carrie Fisher and two days before fellow “Irene” star Debbie Reynolds – at the age of 94 in New York City. The cause of death is being listed as natural causes.
Friend, director, and fellow actor David Staller spoke on Irving saying, “he was one of those Broadway legends who worked all the time. He was never a huge star. But everyone who knew him genuinely loved him.”
Although retired, Irving’s last role in 2015 was in the Staller-directed off-Broadway adaptation of Chekhov’s short story, “Swan Song,” where he played an aging actor.
Irving made his Broadway debut in the original production of “Oklahoma” as Joe – a part of the singing ensemble. He also appeared in the original production of “Call Me Mister” portraying a variety of roles, “Along Fifth Avenue” also in a variety of roles, “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” first as an understudy and then as the replacement role of Mr. Esmond Sr, “Two’s Company” as understudy and in a variety of roles, “Can-Can” as the replacement role for Boris Adzinidzinadze, “Me and Juliet” as Dario, “Bells are Ringing” as Larry Hastings, “Shinbone Alley” as Big Bill, “The Good Soup” in a variety of roles, “Ima La Douce” as the police inspector, “Romulus” as Metellus, “Bravo Giovanni” as Signor Bellardi, the comedy play “Seidman and Son” as a replacement for Rosenzweig, the musical comedy “Tovarich” as Charles Davis, the play “A Murderer Among Us” as [Marolles, “Alfie!” as Mr. Smith, “Anya” as Chernov, “Galileo”, “The Happy Time” as Philippe Bonnard, “Four on a Garden” as a TV Repairman and as a Real Estate Agent, “An Evening with Richard M. Nixon and…” as President Richard M. Nixon, the musical comedy “Irene” where he won his Tony Award, “Who’s Who in Hell” as Elbert C. Harland, the farcical play “All Over Town” as the replacement for Dr. Lionel Morris, “So Long, 174th Street” in a variety of roles, “Once in a Lifetime” as Herman Glogauer, “I Remember Mama” as Uncle Chris, the musical revival of “The Pirates of Penzance” as the replacement for Major General Stanley, “Copperfield” as Mr. Micawber, the musical comedy “On Your Toes” as Sergei Alexandrovitch, “Me and My Girl” as Sir John Tremayne, and a special appearance in “A Wonderful Life”. His final role was in 2015 in the Off Broadway production of “Swan Song” by Anton Checkov. He played an aging actor.
In Hollywood, Irving most often lent his voice to a number of productions. He appeared in a little over two dozens films and television programs including his 1955 Hollywood debut in “The Goldbergs”, the voice of the Wolf in “Art Carney Meets Peter and the Wolf”, “Car 54, Where Are You?”, “Naked City”, “The Patty Duke Show”, a 124 episodes of the cartoon show “Underdog”, 48 episodes of “Go Go Gophers”, the voice of the heat miser in “The Year Without Santa Claus”, “All in the Family”, 10 episodes of “The Dumplings”, the voice of The Captain in “Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure”, the voice of Geppeto in “Pinocchio’s Christmas”, and in eight episodes of the daytime drama “Ryan’s Hope”.
Along with his Tony Award, Irving has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award in Musical Theatre – the Oscar Hammerstein Award.
He was born George Irving Shelasky on November 1, 1922 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Russian Jewish immigrant parents.
Irving is predeceased by his wife of over 50 years, fellow actress Maria Kamilova – she created the Broadway role of Golda in “Fiddler on the Roof”. He is survived by his children and grandchildren.
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