Actor Donald Moffat, known for his performance in John Carpenter’s The Thing, has passed away at the age of 87. The avuncular, bushy-browed Moffat built a career as a renowned stage actor before arriving in Hollywood, where he became well-known for performances in films like Popeye, The Right Stuff and Clear and Present Danger.
Born in Plymouth, England in 1930, Moffat trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts before launching a stage career in London and later New York. After a brief period working as a bartender and lumberjack in Oregon, Moffat returned to acting and soon began working on Broadway. He scored his first TV and film roles in the late 1960s, and slowly built a reputation as a dependable character actor with a certain dignified bearing. He worked steadily throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, becoming a familiar face to filmgoers and television viewers alike.
As reported by the New York Times, Moffat died on Thursday at a retirement community in Sleepy Hollow, NY at the age of 87. His daughter, Lynn Moffat, says he passed away due to complications from a stroke. Moffat was retired from acting after his final television appearance, a guest spot in a 2005 episode of Law & Order: Trial By Jury. He is survived by his wife, actress Gwen Arner, and four children, two from a previous marriage to the actress Anne Murray.
The classically trained Moffat’s career as a stage actor took off in the 1960s, and in 1967 he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his work in revivals of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck and Pirandello’s Right You Are If You Think You Are. In films, Moffat is probably most remembered today for his performance as Antarctic station commander Garry in John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi classic The Thing. Moffat is also remembered for his performances as two very different presidents, one based on a real Commander-in-Chief and the other fictional. In 1984’s The Right Stuff, he played a flustered version of real-life president Lyndon Johnson, and in 1994’s spy thriller Clear and Present Danger he played the fictional President Bennett opposite Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan.
Moffat’s TV resume ran the gamut from early series like Bonanza and Night Gallery through ‘70s classics like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Waltons up to later shows like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, The West Wing and Bull. Moffat was a consistent presence in genre films as well, appearing in everything from the Michael Crichton adaptation The Terminal Man to the disaster film Earthquake to the B-grade horror movie Monster in the Closet. He also became a member of Robert Altman’s unofficial repertory company, appearing in the director’s films Popeye, HealtH and Cookie’s Fortune.
Rest in Peace Donald Moffat: December 26, 1930 – December 20, 2018
Source: New York Times