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Tony winner Barnard Hughes dies at 90

Veteran theater, film and TV actor was best known for starring role in ‘Da’
/ Source: The Associated Press

Barnard Hughes, who won a Tony for his portrayal of the curmudgeonly title character in Hugh Leonard’s “Da,” has died after a brief illness. He was 90.

Hughes died Tuesday at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said Chris Boneau, a spokesman for Hughes’ family.

The actor, along with wife Helen Stenborg, were veterans of the New York stage. Hughes made his Broadway debut in “Herself Mrs. Patrick Crowley” in 1935, but it was “Da,” some 43 years later that made him a star and won him the best-actor Tony. He also starred in the 1988 film version of the Tony-winning play.

Among Hughes’ other major Broadway credits were “A Majority of One” (1959), “Advise and Consent” (1960), “Nobody Loves an Albatross’ (1963), the Richard Burton revival of “Hamlet” (1964), “How Now, Dow Jones” (1967), “Abelard and Heloise” (1971), “The Good Doctor” (1973), “All Over Town” (1974), “Angels Fall” (1983) and “Prelude to a Kiss” (1990).

He received a featured-actor Tony nomination in 1973 for his performance as Dogberry in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s revival of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Hughes’ last Broadway appearance came in the Noel Coward comedy “Waiting in the Wings” in 1999.

Among his many movies: “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Hospital,” “Cold Turkey,” “Where’s Poppa?”, “Oh, God!,” “Maxie,” “The Lost Boys,” “Doc Hollywood,” “Sister Act 2” and “Cradle Will Rock.”

Hughes also worked extensively in the early days of television, appearing on such shows as “Playhouse 90,” “Kraft Theatre” and “Armstrong Circle Theatre.” He also starred on such TV series as “Doc,” “Mr. Merlin,” “The Cavanaughs” and “Blossom.” He won an Emmy in 1977 for a guest-starring stint on “Lou Grant.”

Born July 16, 1915 in Bedford Hills, N.Y., Hughes worked as a department store salesman and a copyreader on Wall Street before he became an actor, auditioning for show on a dare from a friend.

Much of his early career was spent touring with stock companies, and after serving in the Army during World War II, he resumed his stage work. He met his wife while performing in a veteran’s hospital show. They were married in 1950.

Besides his wife, Hughes is survived by son Doug, daughter Laura and grandson Samuel Hughes Rubin.

Funeral services will be private.