Broadway Leading Man Keith Andes Dies at 85

Keith Andes, who romanced Lucille Ball in the 1960 musical Wildcat and who starred in numerous musicals and films, has passed away at the age of 85; he was found dead in his L.A. home on November 11th.

The cause of Andes' death was cited by coroners as asphyxiation. Sadly, the performer had been struggling with bladder cancer and other maladies.

Andes' 1943 Broadway appearance in Winged Victory, in which he understudied Barry Nelson, led to Twentieth Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck's casting him (in an uncredited role) in the film version. At the time, the actor, who served in the Air Force, was known as Private John Andes. Prior to his enrollment in the military, Andes had earned a degree in education from Temple University in 1943 and studied voice at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music.

During his film career, Andes was featured in The Farmer's Daughter, Blackbeard, The Pirate, A Life at Stake, The Great Waltz, Pillars of the Sky, Back from Eternity, Interlude, The Girl Most Likely, Tora! Tora! Tora! and others. His most notable screen performance was opposite Marilyn Monroe in Clash by Night. His TV credits included "Glynis" (opposite Glynis Johns) and "This Man Dawson," in addition to guest appearances in such shows as "Cannon," "Gunsmoke," "The Lucy Show" and "Perry Mason."

In addition to his performance as oil prospector Joe Dynamite in Wildcat (which featured music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh), the baritone Andes performed on Broadway in the operetta The Chocolate Soldier (for which he won a Theatre World Award), as well as in Maggie and Kiss Me, Kate (in which he replaced Alfred Drake). Man of La Mancha's Don Quixote was another musical theatre role.

Andes, who married and divorced twice, is survived by his sons Mark and Matt, and by three grandchildren.


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