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July 31, 2006

Barnard Hughes Dies at 90

Emmy & Tony Award Winner

Los Angeles, CA Barnard Hughes, an Emmy and Tony award-winning actor whose career brought him distinction on stage, in films and on television, died July 11 in New York City. He was 90 years old.

Although he began acting professionally in 1934 at age 19, and continued to work for decades thereafter, it was not until 1978, when he played the lead role in the Broadway production Da, about a carefree Irish widower who is remembered by his son, that he established himself as an in-demand character actor. Hughes’ roundly hailed performance earned him a Tony Award.

Hughes won his Emmy for his portrayal of a senile judge on an episode of Lou Grant. He also starred in the sitcoms Doc and The Cavanaughs. His numerous recurring roles included episodes of The Guiding Light, As the World Turns, All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show and Blossom.

He also enjoyed a lengthy movie career, with such credits as Midnight Cowboy, The Hospital, Where’s Poppa?, Oh God! and Doc Hollywood. He also reprised his role in Da for a 1988 feature film adaptation.

The son of Irish immigrants, Barnard Aloysius Kiernan Hughes was born July 16, 1915, in Bedford Hills, N.Y. He held a series of odd jobs prior to auditioning for a repertory company that performed Shakespeare in high schools, which resulted in a small role in The Taming of the Shrew.

When he was cast in the play he left Manhattan College to tour with the company. Over the next two years he eventually played several major Shakespearean characters. He went on to perform with a repertory company in Chicago and with a comedy troupe that toured the southern United States.

After military service during World War II, he returned to acting. In 1946 he met actress Helen Stenborg, whom he married in 1950. The couple performed together numerous times over the ensuing half century, including Hughes’ final Broadway performance in Noel Coward’s Waiting in the Wings.

During his distinguished career in the theater, Hughes made several appearances on Broadway. In addition to his Tony for Da, he earned a Tony nomination for his performance as the constable Dogberry in a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

In addition to his wife Hughes is survived by a son, daughter and grandson.

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