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Veteran Actor Bruce Kirby Dies at 95

He died peacefully on Sunday, January 24th.

Veteran Actor Bruce Kirby Dies at 95

BRUCE KIRBY, beloved veteran character actor best remembered for his great performance as Matt Dillon's father Pop Ryan in the Academy Award-winning film CRASH, as well as long-running roles on classic TV shows including LA LAW (as D.A. Bruce Rogoff) and COLUMBO (as Sgt. Kramer), died peacefully on Sunday, January 24th at the age of 95, shortly after his loving wife Roz came to say her goodbyes.

Bruce Kirby's career in film, television and theater spanned over seven decades. Born as Bruno Giovanni Quidaculo on April 28th, 1925 in Greenwich Village, New York, he took the stage name Bruce Kirby when he started pursuing a career in acting. He was first inspired to perform after seeing newcomer Frank Sinatra live at the Paramount Theater in New York City. Shortly afterwards, Bruce began studying with renowned acting teacher Lee Strasberg. By day he was learning the craft of acting, and by night he was honing his comedy and singing skills at The Bon Soi Night Club on 8th Street in the Village, as the utility man for such legendary acts as Kaye Ballard, Alice Ghostley and G. Wood, May Barnes and Tiger Haines. It wasn't long before Bruce was emceeing sketches and comedy routines, singing, and waiting on tables, often all in the same night. Known as 'The Singing Waiter', Bruce was even willing to wear a gorilla suit if it would make the audience laugh. His multi-faceted talents soon garnered the attention of impresario Julius Monk at The Upstairs at the Downstairs Club, who later brought him to his Plaza 9 Room at the Plaza Hotel as head Maitre 'D and 'Mr. Kirby at the door'. His first TV production soon followed on the Goodyear Television Playhouse. Mr. Kirby loved his job which allowed him to support his first wife Lucille Garibaldi and his two sons Bruno and John in between TV shows, commercials and On- and Off-Broadway shows. In 1976, Bruce married his second wife Rosalyn ('Roz'), who Bruce's son John credits for loving his father so well it kept him alive much longer than expected.

One time, Bruce was cast in two different Off-Broadway shows at the same time. Because his character only appeared in the first act of one play and the SECOND ACT of the other, he changed his costume in the taxi cab between acts. This commitment to the craft caught the attention of genius producer Nat Hiken, who cast him in several episodes of SGT. BILKO as well as a long-running role on hit comedy show CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU. At the same time, he was making a name for himself guesting on many shows filmed in New York including THE NURSES, THE DEFENDERS and THE PATTY DUKE SHOW. In 1965, Bruce returned to Broadway with a principle role in Lawrence and Lee's "Diamond Orchid", directed by Jose Quintaro; another of his cherished performances was as Uncle Ben in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman". Later, he got a phone call from his dearest friends Alice Ghostley and Felice Orlandi, or "Aunt Alice" and "Uncle Felice" as they were known to his boys. Alice and Felice had gotten Bruce and his family an apartment a block away from them in Hollywood, and gave them four days to decide to move. After moving to Los Angeles, many new doors started to open - and the rest is Hollywood history. Agent Ray Rappa signed Bruce and helped to advance his illustrious professional acting career. Television and film audiences recognize his familiar face from: KOJAK, Jamie Lee Curtis' Father on ANYTHING BUT LOVE, HOGAN'S HEROES, BARNEY MILLER, THE ROCKFORD FILES, MASH, ALICE, HILLSTREET BLUES, NIGHT COURT, MURDER SHE WROTE and as special Guest Star on THE GOLDEN GIRLS and BONANZA as well as Films like STAND BY ME and MR. WONDERFUL.

Amongst his many notable credits, Bruce was also a longtime member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Father to late great Actor Bruno Kirby and prominent Acting Coach John Kirby, Bruce is survived by his wife Roz Kirby, son John Kirby and stepson Bradley Sullivan.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Actorsfund.org in Bruce's memory.

Condolences may also be sent to The John Kirby Studio contact info available @ http://www.thejohnkirbystudio.com.


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