Richard Kiley

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.[1] 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[2] and his "sonorous baritone"[3] 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."[2]

Richard Kiley
Richard Kiley 1960
Kiley in 1960.
Richard Paul Kiley

March 31, 1922
DiedMarch 5, 1999 (aged 76)
Years active1950–1999
Mary Bell Wood
(m. 1948; div. 1967)

Patricia Ferrier
(m. 1968)

Early life

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[4] he left to study acting at Chicago's Barnum Dramatic School. In the late 40s, he performed in Chicago-area summer stock theaters with actors such as Alan Furlan.[5] 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.[6]


Peter Falk Richard Kiley Colombo 1974
Kiley with Peter Falk in Columbo, 1974.

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.

Later years

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.[7][8]


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.



Year Title Role Notes
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
1989 Miami Cops
1993 Jurassic Park Jurassic Park Tour Voice Voice
1993 The Gospel According to St. Matthew Old Matthew
1996 Phenomenon Dr. Wellin
1997 Time to Say Goodbye? Dr. Gerald Klooster
1998 Patch Adams Dr. Titan
2002 Jesus the Christ Matthew (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1954 Justice Unknown 2 episodes
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"
1972 Gunsmoke Bohannon Episode: "Bohannon"
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 A.D. Claudius 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


Year Title Role Notes
1953 Misalliance Joey Percival
1953–1955 Kismet The Caliph
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 Voices Robert
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


  1. ^ Tom Vallance (1999-03-11). "Obituary: Richard Kiley – Arts & Entertainment". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  2. ^ a b MEL GUSSOWPublished: March 06, 1999 (1999-03-06). "Richard Kiley, the Man of La Mancha, Is Dead at 76 – New York Times". Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  3. ^ "Overview for Richard Kiley". Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  4. ^ Obituary: Richard Kiley from The Independent (London) March 11, 1999
  5. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal". July 30, 1985.
  6. ^ "Earl Wilson". Toledo Blade. September 22, 1977.
  7. ^ "Blue Moon" TV movie at IMDB
  8. ^ Yahoo TV bio of Richard Kiley


  • Man of La Mancha – original theatrical program, for Kiley's personal comments on playing Don Quixote

External links

A.k.a. Cassius Clay

A.k.a. Cassius Clay (styled as a.k.a. Cassius Clay) is a 1970 boxing documentary film about the former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

Directed by Jimmy Jacobs, the film was made during Ali's exile from the sport for refusing to be inducted into the US Army on religious grounds. Narrated by Richard Kiley, the film gives an overview of Ali's career to that point. The film features archival footage of people associated with Ali, such as Angelo Dundee, Malcolm X, and Drew Bundini Brown, and clips of his fights with Sonny Liston, Henry Cooper, George Chuvalo and Floyd Patterson. These are intercut with scenes featuring Ali and veteran boxing trainer Cus D'Amato discussing his career and how he would have fared against past champions such as Joe Louis.

A Year in the Life

A Year in the Life is a 1986 miniseries and a one-hour dramatic series that ran on NBC during the 1987–1988 television season, created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey.

The series began as a three-part miniseries which was first broadcast in December 1986. As suggested by the title, the miniseries followed the various members of the Gardner family of Seattle during the course of one year. The major event of that year was the sudden and unexpected death of wife and mother Ruth Gardner (Eva Marie Saint).

Following the success of the miniseries, NBC decided to launch a one-hour drama series the following fall. Richard Kiley played Joe Gardner, owner of a successful plastics business and father of four adult children. The children were twice-divorced daughter Anne (Wendy Phillips), who had returned home with her two teenaged children; daughter Lindley (Jayne Atkinson) and husband Jim (Adam Arkin), parents of a newborn baby daughter; black sheep son Jack (Morgan Stevens); and conservative youngest son Sam (David Oliver), married to free-spirited Kay (Sarah Jessica Parker). Diana Muldaur was a later addition to the cast as Dr. Alice Foley, Joe Gardner's new romantic interest. Amanda Peterson played Joe Gardner's granddaughter Sunny Sisk and Trey Ames played Gardner's grandson, David Sisk.

The miniseries was the third-highest rated miniseries of the 1986–87 US television season with a 16.9/27 rating/share.The series ran for one complete season, but was not renewed for a second season.

Danger (TV series)

Danger is a television series which first aired on September 19, 1950, and ended in May 1955. The first episode, entitled "The Black Door", was directed by Yul Brynner, based on a story by Henry Norton and a teleplay by Irving Elman, and starring Dane Clark and Olive Deering.

The show featured many actors including Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall, Joseph Anthony, Edward Binns, John Cassavetes, Míriam Colón, Ben Gazzara, Grace Kelly, Richard Kiley, Walter Slezak, Hildy Parks, James Gregory, Paul Langton, Cloris Leachman, Jayne Meadows, Martin Ritt, Maria Riva, Lee Grant, Kim Stanley, Rod Steiger, Steve Allen, Anne Bancroft, Jacqueline Susann, Walter Matthau, and Leo Penn.

The final episode, on May 31, 1955, was an adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier story "The Birds" with Michael Strong and Betty Lou Holland.

Do You Remember Love (film)

Do You Remember Love is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film starring Joanne Woodward and Richard Kiley. It won three Emmy Awards, the Humanitas Prize, the Writers Guild of America Award, and a Peabody Award.

Eight Iron Men

Eight Iron Men is a 1952 American World War II drama film directed by Edward Dmytryk and produced by Stanley Kramer. It stars Bonar Colleano, Arthur Franz, Lee Marvin and Richard Kiley. The screenplay by Harry Brown was based on his 1945 play A Sound of Hunting, which had featured Burt Lancaster during its short run on Broadway.

How the West Was Won (TV series)

How the West Was Won is an American western television series that starred James Arness, Eva Marie Saint, Fionnula Flanagan, Bruce Boxleitner, and Richard Kiley. Loosely based on the 1962 Cinerama film of the same name, it aired as a mini-series in 1977, and as a regular series in 1978 and 1979. A 2-hour pilot film, The Macahans, ran in 1976. A total of 25 episodes were aired.

The show was a great success in Europe, apparently finding a larger and more lasting audience there than in the United States. It has been rebroadcast many times on various European networks, e.g. in France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden, and has built a cult following. It was released on DVD in Europe in November 2009.

A sequence of paintings by Charles Marion Russell was shown during the end credits.

I Had a Ball

I Had a Ball is a musical with a book by Jerome Chodorov and music and lyrics by Jack Lawrence and Stan Freeman. It starred Buddy Hackett, and featured Richard Kiley and Karen Morrow.

Man of La Mancha

Man of La Mancha is a 1965 musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his 17th-century novel Don Quixote. It tells the story of the "mad" knight Don Quixote as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. The work is not and does not pretend to be a faithful rendition of either Cervantes' life or Don Quixote; for example, the historical Cervantes had no contact with the Spanish Inquisition, and Don Quixote's horse Rocinante is never stolen. Wasserman complained repeatedly about people taking the work as a musical version of Don Quixote.The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre.The principal song, "The Impossible Dream", became a standard. The musical has played in many other countries around the world, with productions in Dutch, French (translation by Jacques Brel), German, Hebrew, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Bengali, Gujarati, Uzbek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swahili, Finnish, Ukrainian and nine distinctly different dialects of the Spanish language.Man of La Mancha was first performed at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut in 1965 and had its New York premiere on the thrust stage of the ANTA Washington Square Theatre in 1965.

Night Gallery (film)

Night Gallery is a 1969 American made-for-television anthology horror film starring Joan Crawford, Roddy McDowall and Richard Kiley. Directed by Boris Sagal, Steven Spielberg and Barry Shear, the film consists of three supernatural tales that served as the pilot for the anthology series of the same name, written and hosted by Rod Serling. The film originally premiered on NBC on November 8, 1969.Rod Serling appears in a dark art gallery setting and introduces a trilogy of supernatural tales by unveiling paintings that depicts each segment. The three canvases produced for the pilot were painted by Jaroslav "Jerry" Gebr (who was head of the Scenic Arts Department at Universal Studios). The original pilot theme was composed by William Goldenberg (who also did the pilot's background music).

No Strings

No Strings is a musical drama with a book by Samuel A. Taylor and words and music by Richard Rodgers, his only Broadway score for which he wrote both lyrics and music, and the first musical he composed after the death of his long-time collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical opened on Broadway in 1962 and ran for 580 performances. It received a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical.

Pendulum (film)

Pendulum is a 1969 film starring George Peppard, Jean Seberg and Richard Kiley.

It was the first feature directed by experienced TV director George Schaefer.

Redhead (musical)

Redhead is a musical with music composed by Albert Hague and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, who with her brother, Herbert, along with Sidney Sheldon and David Shaw wrote the book/libretto. Set in London in the 1880s, around the time of Jack the Ripper, the musical is a murder mystery in the setting of a wax museum.

Separate but Equal (film)

Separate But Equal is a 1991 American two-part television miniseries depicting the landmark Supreme Court desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, based on the phrase "Separate but equal". The film stars Sidney Poitier as lead NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, Richard Kiley as Chief Justice Earl Warren, Burt Lancaster (in his final television role) as lawyer John W. Davis (loser of Briggs v. Elliott and the Democratic candidate in the 1924 US presidential election), Cleavon Little as lawyer and judge Robert L. Carter, and Lynne Thigpen as Ruth Alice Stovall. In 1991, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences rewarded the film Outstanding Miniseries award.

Spanish Affair

Spanish Affair is a 1957 American-Spanish co-produced drama film directed by Don Siegel and Luis Marquina. It features Carmen Sevilla, Richard Kiley and José Guardiola.

The Phenix City Story

The Phenix City Story is a 1955 American film noir crime film directed by Phil Karlson for Allied Artists, written by Daniel Mainwaring and Crane Wilbur and starring John McIntire, Richard Kiley and Kathryn Grant. It had an unusual "triple premiere" held on July 19, 1955 in Phenix City, Columbus and Chicago (NB. the AFI incorrectly lists it as July 9).

The Sweetest Sounds (song)

"The Sweetest Sounds" is a popular song, with words and music written by Richard Rodgers for the 1962 musical No Strings. The song opens and closes the show for characters Barbara Woodruff and David Jordan, performed by Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley in the original Broadway theatre production and subsequent cast recording.

The Thorn Birds (miniseries)

The Thorn Birds is an American television miniseries broadcast on ABC from March 27 to 30, 1983. It starred Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Barbara Stanwyck, Christopher Plummer, Jean Simmons, Richard Kiley, Bryan Brown, Mare Winningham and Philip Anglim. It was directed by Daryl Duke and based on a novel of the same name by Colleen McCullough. The series was enormously successful and became the United States' second highest-rated miniseries of all time behind Roots; both series were produced by television veteran David L. Wolper.

Theatre Guild

The Theatre Guild is a theatrical society founded in New York City in 1918 by Lawrence Langner, Philip Moeller, Helen Westley and Theresa Helburn. Langner's wife, Armina Marshall, then served as a co-director. It evolved out of the work of the Washington Square Players.Its original purpose was to produce non-commercial works by American and foreign playwrights. It differed from other theaters at the time in that its board of directors shared the responsibility of choosing plays, management, and production. The Theatre Guild contributed greatly to the success of Broadway from the 1920s throughout the 1970s.

The Guild has produced a total of 228 plays on Broadway, including 18 by George Bernard Shaw and seven by Eugene O'Neill. Other major playwrights introduced to theatre-going Americans include Robert E. Sherwood, Maxwell Anderson, Sidney Howard, William Saroyan, and Philip Barry. In the field of musical theatre, the Guild has promoted works by Richard Rodgers, teamed with both Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, George and Ira Gershwin, Jule Styne, and Meredith Willson, all of which have become classics. Under President John F. Kennedy, the Guild was engaged to assemble a U.S. theatre company, headed by Helen Hayes, to tour the capitals of Europe and South America with works by Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, and William Gibson.In 1968, the Guild became involved in the travel field by taking 25 of its subscribers to European capitals to see plays. In 1975, it instituted its Theatre At Sea program with a 17-day cruise aboard the Rotterdam with Hayes and Cyril Ritchard. Since then they have hosted more than thirty cruises, each with seven or eight performers. Among them have been Alan Arkin, Zoe Caldwell, Anne Jackson, Cherry Jones, Richard Kiley, Eartha Kitt, Patricia Neal, Lynn Redgrave, Gena Rowlands, Jean Stapleton, Eli Wallach, and Lee Roy Reams, who served as the program's resident director.

The last Broadway play produced by The Theatre Guild was State Fair in 1996.

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