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Joseph Bova--Original Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress--Dies at 81

Joseph Bova, a Tony-nominated actor best known for creating the role of Prince Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress, passed away on March 12th at the Actors' Fund Retirement Home in New Jersey. He was 81 years old.

After working in Cleveland as program director at WNBK (the city's NBC station) and hosting the children's TV show "Uncle Joe," he came to New York and soon after (as Joe Bova) starred opposite Carol Burnett in 1959's fractured musical fairy tale Once Upon a Mattress; he would also reprise his performance in the 1964 TV version.

Nominated for a Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play (for his work in The Chinese, one of two one-act Murray Schisgal plays), the actor also appeared on Broadway in 42nd Street, Saint Joan, An American Millionaire, and Hot Spot (with music by Mattress' Mary Rodgers), among others. Off-Broadway credits included The Cradle Will Rock and The Matchmaker, while he appeared in Shakespeare in the Park productions of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Love's Labour's Lost and Troilus and Cressida.

His film and TV credits included "Kojak," "Starsky and Hutch," Serpico and Up the Sandbox.

He is survived by his wife Lee Lawson, also an actress with numerous Broadway credits, as well as by two siblings.


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