Two-Time Tony-Winning Actor Russell Nype Dies at 98

Obituaries   Two-Time Tony-Winning Actor Russell Nype Dies at 98
 
The actor may best be remembered for his show-stopping duet with Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam.
Russell Nype
Russell Nype

Russell Nype, who won Tony Awards sharing the stage with Ethel Merman and Elaine Stritch, died May 27 in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 98, according to the New York Times.

Russell Nype, June Helmers, Danny Lockin, and Georgia Engel in <i>Hello, Dolly!</i>
Russell Nype, June Helmers, Danny Lockin, and Georgia Engel in Hello, Dolly! Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Born Russell Harold Nype April 26, 1920, in Zion, Illinois, Nype attended Lake Forest College before serving in the Army during World War II. He later moved to New York, working as a ballroom dance instructor and singing in downtown nightclubs before making his Broadway debut in 1945 in the original musical Regina.

The actor also appeared in the short-lived musical Great to Be Alive! before being cast in the role of Kenneth Gibson in the 1950 Irving Berlin hit Call Me Madam, which starred Ethel Merman as fictional U.S. ambassador Mrs. Sally Adams. It was Nype's duet with Merman on “You're Just in Love” that stopped the show nightly. For his performance, Nype received a Theatre World Award as well as his first Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Nype followed that Tony-winning turn with a role in the comedy Wake Up, Darling, which played five performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1956, and a 1957 revival of Carousel that cast him as Enoch Snow.

The 1958 musical comedy Goldilocks, which starred Elaine Stritch and Don Ameche, brought Nype his second Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Nype was also seen on Broadway in a 1963 revival of Brigadoon, the original farce Once for the Asking (also in 1963), a replacement Cornelius Hackl in the original staging of Hello, Dolly! (when Merman joined the cast in the title role), and the six-performance run of the 1967 comedy The Girl in the Freudian Slip (featuring a young Bernadette Peters among its cast).

Nype's final Broadway outing was as a replacement in the 1980 Tony-winning revival of Morning’s at Seven.

On the silver screen Nype appeared in Love Story (1970), Can't Stop the Music (1980), Balboa (1983), and The Stuff (1985), while his TV credits included Frontiers of Faith, Look up and Live, Dorothy, Fantasy Island, One Day at a Time, Who's the Boss?, and Murder, She Wrote, among others. He also was seen in TV stagings of One Touch of Venus and Kiss Me, Kate.

In 1953 Nype married Diantha Lawrence, who passed away in 2015. He is survived by his son Russell, his stepson Richard Mander, and his stepdaughter Melanie Mander as well as two grandchildren.

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