Richard Paul Kiley (March 31, 1922 – March 5, 1999) was an American stage, television, and film actor. He is best known for his distinguished theatrical career in which he twice won the Tony Award for Best Actor In A Musical. Kiley created the role of Don Quixote in the original 1965 production of the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha and was the first to sing and record "The Impossible Dream", the hit song from the show. In the 1953 hit musical Kismet, he played the Caliph and was one of the quartet introducing the song "And This Is My Beloved". Additionally, he won three Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards during his 50-year career and his "sonorous baritone" was also featured in the narration of a number of documentaries and other films. At the time of his death, Kiley was described as "one of theater's most distinguished and versatile actors" and as "an indispensable actor, the kind of performer who could be called on to play kings and commoners and a diversity of characters in between."
Kiley in 1960
Richard Paul Kiley
March 31, 1922
|Died||March 5, 1999 (aged 76)|
Mary Bell Wood
(m. 1948; div. 1967)
(m. after 1968)
Kiley was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised Roman Catholic. He graduated from Mt. Carmel High School in 1939, and after a year at Loyola University Chicago he left to study acting at Chicago's Barnum Dramatic School. In the late 1940s, he performed in Chicago-area summer stock theaters with actors such as Alan Furlan. Following his service in the United States Navy in World War II, he returned to Chicago working as an actor and announcer on radio before moving to New York City. In New York he studied singing with Ray Smolover.
Kiley's work on stage included Kismet, No Strings (which was Richard Rodgers's first stage musical after the death of Oscar Hammerstein II) in which Rodgers wrote both music and lyrics, the Buddy Hackett vehicle I Had a Ball, and the lead roles in Redhead, Man of La Mancha, and the play The Incomparable Max.
Kiley later starred in the television play Patterns, which aired live on January 12, 1955. It caused a sensation and won an Emmy for its writer, Rod Serling. He played the role of John Malcolm Patterson, future Attorney General of Alabama (and later Governor of Alabama), in the 1955 film The Phenix City Story. Kiley also portrayed math teacher Joshua Edwards, whose phonograph records were smashed by delinquents in Blackboard Jungle in 1955.
Kiley won Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical for Redhead in 1959 and Man of La Mancha in 1966. The dual role of middle-aged author Cervantes and his fictional creation Quixote is one of the few musical roles that requires the talents of both leading man and character actor. Kiley said while La Mancha was on Broadway that despite the fact he had grown tired of playing leading men, he would always be grateful for having been given the chance to perform in La Mancha. He performed in the original production for over five years and returned for Broadway revivals in 1972 and 1977 saying he had become "very possessive" of the role.
Kiley won three Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for his work in television. He won both an Emmy and Golden Globe awards for The Thorn Birds (as Paddy, Rachel Ward's father) (1983) and A Year in the Life (1986, 1987–1988). His third Emmy win was for Guest Actor in a Drama Series, for an episode of Picket Fences.
Other television work included as the murderous police commissioner on Columbo (1974, the episode "A Friend In Deed"), his appearance as Gideon Seyetik in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Second Sight", as well as guest roles on Ally McBeal, Hawaii Five-O and Gunsmoke. He narrated the award-winning seven-part 1986 PBS documentary Planet Earth.
Kiley's baritone made him a favorite to narrate documentaries for television. In Jurassic Park, Kiley's voice is used to narrate the park's vehicle tour. Kiley was introduced as the narrator for the tour first in the novel by Michael Crichton, and later in the film adaptation by Steven Spielberg where the owner of the park said he "spared no expense" hiring Kiley. Visitors to Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida, and Universal Studios in Hollywood hear Kiley as the narrator of the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride.
In 1993, Christian filmmakers set out to make a film which would be a Word-for-Word of the Gospel. Kiley was chosen to do a narration style film as the Apostle Matthew in his latter days. He is seen doing many flashbacks as Matthew in the days when Jesus walked the Earth.
From 1994 until 1998, Kiley narrated the A&E documentary television series Mysteries of the Bible. His final acting role was in the 1999 TV movie Blue Moon, which debuted the month after his death.
Kiley died of an unspecified bone marrow disease at Horton Hospital in Middletown, New York, on March 5, 1999, less than a month before his 77th birthday. He was survived by his wife and six children, sons David and Michael Kiley and daughters Kathleen, Dorothea, Erin and Deirdre. His remains were interred in Warwick. Broadway's lights went dark in his honor.
|1951||The Mob||Thomas Clancy|
|1952||The Sniper||Dr. James G. Kent|
|1952||Eight Iron Men||Private Coke|
|1953||Pickup on South Street||Joey|
|1955||Blackboard Jungle||Joshua Y. Edwards|
|1955||The Phenix City Story||John Patterson|
|1957||Spanish Affair||Merritt Blake|
|1958||The Power of the Resurrection||Peter|
|1969||Pendulum||Woodrow Wilson King|
|1970||a.k.a. Cassius Clay||Narrator|
|1974||The Little Prince||The Pilot|
|1977||Looking for Mr. Goodbar||Mr. Dunn|
|1981||Endless Love||Arthur Axelrod|
|1986||Howard the Duck||The Cosmos||Voice|
|1989||To the Limit||Narrator|
|1993||Jurassic Park||Jurassic Park Tour Voice||Voice|
|1993||The Gospel According to St. Matthew||Old Matthew|
|1997||Time to Say Goodbye?||Dr. Gerald Klooster|
|1998||Patch Adams||Dr. Titan|
|2002||Jesus the Christ||Matthew||(final film role)|
TelevisionEditJim Derry Episode: Blood Bargain
|1956||Studio One||Mr. Dean||Episode: "The Landlady's Daughter"|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Harry Adams||Episode: "Crooked Road"|
|1969||Night Gallery||Joseph Strobe||Television film ("The Escape Route" segment)|
|1970||Gunsmoke||Lewis Stark||Episode: "Stark"|
|1970||Bonanza||Gideon Yates||Episode: Gideon the Good|
|1970||The Ceremony of Innocence||King Ethelred II||Television film|
|1971||Murder Once Removed||Frank Manning||Television film|
|1971||Gunsmoke||Tom Lynott||Episode: "Lynott"|
|1973||Gunsmoke||Will Stambridge||Episode: "Kitty's Love Affair"|
|1974||Columbo: A Friend in Deed||Mark Halperin|
|1975||Friendly Persuasion||Jess Birdwell||Television film|
|1980||Angel on My Shoulder||Nick||Television film|
|1981||Isabel's Choice||Lyman Jones||Television film|
|1981||Golden Gate||Thomas J. Kingsley||Television film|
|1983||The Thorn Birds||Paddy Cleary||2 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1984||George Washington||George Mason||Television film|
|1985||The Canterville Ghost||Sir Simon de Canterville||Television film|
|1985||Do You Remember Love||George Hollis||Television film|
|1986||Planet Earth||Narrator||7 episodes|
|1986||The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series)||Lancelot||Episode: "The Last Defender of Camelot (The Twilight Zone)"|
|1986||If Tomorrow Comes||Gunther Hartog||3 episodes|
|1986–1988||A Year in the Life||Joe Gardner||22 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
|1988||My First Love||Sam Morrissey||Television film|
|1991||Absolute Strangers||Dr. R.J. Cannon||Television film|
|1991||Separate But Equal||Chief Justice Earl Warren||Television film|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1992–1994||Picket Fences||Hayden Langston||2 episodes|
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
|1993||Star Trek: Deep Space Nine||Dr. Gideon Seyetik||Episode: "Second Sight" (Season 2 Episode 9)|
|1994–1998||Mysteries of the Bible||Narrator|
|1995||The Great Defender||Joe Dewitt||8 episodes|
|1996||Mary & Tim||Ron Melville||Television film|
|1997||Time to Say Goodbye?||Dr. Gerald Klooster||Television film|
|1997||Tigers of the Show||Narrator|
|1998||Ally McBeal||Seymore Little||Episode: "Once in a Lifetime"|
|1998||Blue Moon||Jimmy Keating||Television film|
|1956||Time Limit||Major Harry Cargill|
|1959–1960||Redhead||Tom Baxter||Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical|
|1960–1961||Advise and Consent||Brig Anderson|
|1962–1963||No Strings||David Jordan||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical|
|1963–1964||Here's Love||Fred Gaily|
|1964–1965||I Had a Ball||Stan the Shpieler|
|1965–1971||Man of La Mancha||Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote||Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical|
|1968||Her First Roman||Caesar|
|1971||The Incomparable Max||Enoch Soames|
|1972||Man of La Mancha||Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote|
|1974–1976||Absurd Person Singular||Ronald|
|1975||"Ah, Wilderness!"||Nat Miller||Academy Festival Theatre, Drake Theatre at Barat College, Lake Forest, Illinois|
|1976||The Heiress||Dr. Austin Sloper||Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play|
|1977||Man of La Mancha||Don Quixote||Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical|
|1987||All My Sons||Joe Keller||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
- Vallance, Tom (March 11, 1999). "Obituary: Richard Kiley". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Gussow, Mel (March 6, 1999). "Richard Kiley, the Man of La Mancha, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- "Overview for Richard Kiley". TCM. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- "The Milwaukee Journal". July 30, 1985.[dead link]
- Wilson, Earl (September 22, 1977). "Off the Grapevine". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio.
- Thurber, Jon (March 6, 1999). "Richard Kiley; Epitomized 'Man of La Mancha'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
Kiley won over the critics with his deft ability to bounce between the demanding roles of the knight errant and the author.
- Geller, Andy (March 6, 1999). "'Man of La Mancha' Star Kiley Dies at 76". New York Post. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
- "Blue Moon" TV movie at IMDB
- Yahoo TV bio of Richard Kiley[dead link]
- Man of La Mancha – original theatrical program, for Kiley's personal comments on playing Don Quixote