Robert Prosky, about whom I have gushed before, died on Monday, just shy of his 77th birthday.
You can read his obituary and this appreciation, both from the Washington Post, by clicking these hyperlinks.
I'm neither a theater critic, nor a writer. I can't express how gifted an actor the man was, bringing to life, or stilling the air, any theater in which he appeared. Most of you have seen him bring to life smaller characters in film and on television: the characters may have been small, but his performances weren't. They were always glimmering.
I first saw him perform in 1975, first heard him speak on acting late that same year. He had yet to appear in a major feature film, and he lovingly spoke only of the theater, and of Washington theater. I first met him that same year. He loved what he did, and was a delightful pixie [although Polish, and not Irish].
I thought I made a mistake this spring when I accosted him outside Nationals Park. I had just seen him perform, with his sons, in a Theater J production. I thought I recognized him as he ascended the Metro escalator. Although the man in the ballcap was an older, frail man; the Prosky I'd seen the week before was old, but powerful and electric.
I introduced myself. His wife smiled, and he merely tolerated. But he lightened up when I told him that meeting him at 15, and hearing him discuss acting, had changed my life.
I could tell that he wanted to just go see a ballgame, so I sheepishly thanked him, and felt embarrassed afterwards.
Now I'm glad I told him. . . .