Actor Donald Grody Pases Away at 83

Donald Grody, an actor, playwright, activist, devoted husband, father and grandfather died at his home in Manhattan on July 13, 2011. He was 83.

Mr. Grody served as Executive Director of Actors' Equity Association from 1973-1980, leading its collective bargaining negotiations for Broadway as well as regional theatres throughout the country. He also spearheaded the effort to fund and create permanent rent-subsidized housing for actors at Manhattan Plaza on West 43rd Street.

Mr. Grody fell in love with the theatre at an early age and followed his passion to London in 1949 where he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Upon his return to the United States, he appeared on Broadway in Wonderful Town, Bells Are Ringing, Happy Hunting, Kismet, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. A gifted baritone whose vocal training enabled him to hit the back row of any Broadway house (without the use of electronic amplification), he possessed a warmth and radiance when he took the stage.

While in the midst of a successful career as an actor, he attended New York Law School, graduating in 1955 and subsequently passing the New York State Bar exam. Mr. Grody took leave from the theatre to work for the US Department of Labor in Washington DC, followed by a stint working for the NYC garment workers (District 65). A few years later, he returned to Washington with the National Labor Relations Board, followed by a return to New York in 1973 to lead Actors' Equity Association.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Mr. Grody returned to the theatre at age 64 in an Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. This was followed by appearances in the National Tour of Guys and Dolls, Parade, Broadway's Jekyll and Hyde (originating the role of Poole), Caroline or Change and Grey Gardens. He made many appearances at regional and Off-Broadway houses, including a production of Copenhagen and two productions of King Lear, one of which he adapted to great critical acclaim. His musical play, Ira! The African Roscius, celebrates the life of 19th century African American actor, Ira Aldridge.

Donald Peter Grody is survived by his devoted wife, Judith Anderson; sons Dion, Gordon, James, Jeremy and Patrick and granddaughters Jess, Jo and Cecily. A celebration of his life and career will be scheduled in the near future. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to The Actors Fund of America or Career Transition For Dancers.

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