(Robert Viagas’s article appeared on Playbill.com, 9/2; via Pam Green.)
Dean Jones, the comic actor who made his mark in a series of Disney films, but who earned a place in Broadway history for originating the role of the vacillating bachelor Bobby in Stephen Sondheim's Company, died Sept. 1. He was 84 and suffered from Parkinson's disease.
Jones, for whom Sondheim wrote "Being Alive," famously left the show within weeks of its opening. He was going through difficulties in his personal life during the show's tryouts, and wanted to leave the show. Hal Prince agreed to let him out of his contract if he would just stay until the opening night, April 26, 1970, and give a great performance to launch the show. Jones wound up playing the role for only a month, though he recorded the original cast album.
His replacement, Larry Kert, joined the show May 29, 1970 — so quickly that he was ruled eligible to compete for the Tony Award that year. Kert was nominated, but did not win.
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