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Richard Venture, the prolific character actor who lent gravitas to the best picture Oscar nominees All the President’s Men, Missing and Scent of a Woman and dozens of other films and TV shows, has died. He was 94.
Venture died Dec. 19 in Chester, Connecticut, his daughter Rebecca told The Hollywood Reporter.
Venture was especially memorable as Peter Sellers’ valet in Hal Ashby’s Being There (1979) and as a cop who commits suicide in Steve McQueen’s final film, The Hunter (1980).
His body of work also includes roles in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972), The Greatest (1977), Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), The Onion Field (1979), Touch and Go (1986), Heartbreak Ridge (1986), The Sicilian (1987), Courage Under Fire (1996) and Red Corner (1997).
Venture portrayed Blair Brown’s dad on the TV series The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, and on Seinfeld, he played the father of Jerry’s then-girlfriend (Catherine Keener) — his character also was an accountant and co-worker of Elaine’s, which tied things together rather nicely — on the 1992 episode “The Letter.”
Often cast as authoritarian figures, Venture was an assistant Metro editor in Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men (1976) and a U.S. ambassador in Costa-Gavras‘ Missing (1982), and in Martin Brest’s Scent of a Woman (1992), he was Al Pacino’s brother, Willie, in the memorably uncomfortable Thanksgiving Day dinner scene.
“He wasn’t a household name,” his daughter noted, “but his volume of work and his adaptability always stand out.”
Venture also had recurring roles on shows including Street Hawk, Falcon Crest, The Boys, Law & Order and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and stints on The Waltons, Knots Landing, Brooklyn Bridge, The Thorn Birds, Valerie, L.A. Law and Murder, She Wrote, among many other series.
Born Richard Venturella on Nov. 11, 1923, in West New York, New Jersey, Venture enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served aboard aircraft carriers in the South Pacific during World War II.
He made his Broadway debut in Dinosaur Wharf in 1951, the first of his several appearances on the Great White Way, and later was a member of the Arena Stage theater company in Washington, D.C., and the Long Wharf theater company in New Haven, Connecticut.
After his career, he retired to Old Lyme, Connecticut.
Venture was married four times, to actresses Grayce Grant, Emmy winner Olivia Cole (Roots, Backstairs at the White House) and Lorraine O’Donnell and to Katherine Venture.
His wife survives him, as do his children Anthony, Kathy, Rebecca and John and nine grandchildren.
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