James Greene, 'Parks and Recreation' Actor and Broadway Veteran, Dies at 91

James Greene-Publicity 2-H 2018
Courtesy of Els Collins

He appeared opposite Olivia de Havilland, Jessica Tandy and Jason Robards on the stage and played the elevator operator on 'The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.'

James Greene, the character actor and Broadway veteran who had a recurring role as the tactless Councilman Milton on Parks and Recreation, has died. He was 91.

Greene died Friday at his home in Los Angeles, his wife, Elsbeth M. Collins, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Greene also was known for his stint as Davey McQuinn, the elevator attendant in Molly's (Blair Brown) apartment complex, on The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. Created by Jay Tarses, the acclaimed comedy-drama ran on NBC and Lifetime from 1987-91.

Greene made his Broadway debut as a member of the chorus in a 1951 production of Romeo and Juliet starring Olivia de Havilland. Between that and the 1991 comedy La Bete, he appeared in 22 other Broadway plays and another 29 plays off-Broadway.

Greene also was in the original Broadway productions of Inherit the Wind, which debuted in 1955; Compulsion (1957); Elia Kazan's The Changeling (1964); and Foxfire (1982), starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and in revivals of You Can't Take It With You (1965, 1967) and, opposite Jason Robards, The Iceman Cometh (1985).

On NBC's Parks and Recreation, Greene made 16 appearances over three seasons as Fielding Milton, one of the five city council members of Pawnee, Indiana. His character, first elected in 1948 as a member of the Dixiecrat Party — its platform: De-integrate Baseball — was chairman of the Commitment to Re-convert the Pawnee Japanese Internment Camp Museum Back into a Working Internment Camp.

Born on Dec. 1, 1926, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Greene graduated from Emerson College in 1950, then became an original member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Company under Kazan.

He also was seen on the big screen in Doc (1971), The Missouri Breaks (1976), A Little Sex (1982), Patch Adams (1998), Road to Perdition (2002) and The Statement (2003) and found regular work on series including Alien Nation, The Practice and Men Behaving Badly.

Greene recently self-published A View From the Wings, a Theatre Memoir, with a foreword from Hal Holbrook.

In addition to his wife of 34 years — a veteran stage manager who is the head of production at the USC School of Dramatic Arts — survivors include a son, Christopher.