Richard Easton, Broadway Veteran and Tony Winner, Dies at 86

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Richard Easton

The 'Invention of Love' actor also starred on the BBC series 'The Brothers' and survived a scary collapse onstage.

Richard Easton, the Canadian actor who appeared two-dozen times on Broadway during his six-decade career and won a Tony Award for his performance in Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, has died. He was 86.

Easton, inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2008, died Dec. 2, according to James Wallert, co-artistic director of the Epic Theatre Ensemble in New York. "Richard was a phenomenal actor, an inspiring teacher and a shining example of what it means to be a professional," he wrote on Facebook.

After his triumphant performance as British poet A.E. Housman in 2001's Invention of Love — his previous Broadway appearance was in 1972 in Murderous Angels — Easton worked with Stoppard again five years later in the three-part The Coast of Utopia.

During a second preview performance of the first installment at the Lincoln Center Theater, Easton passed out onstage after delivering an emotional diatribe that ended with the line, "That is my last word." (The audience thought his collapse was all part of the play.)

Recalled co-star Martha Plimpton, "I never thought I'd say those words, but I said, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

Easton returned to work about three weeks later after Stoppard delayed opening night to allow him to undergo a procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia. He played Russians in the trilogy.

On television, Easton starred on the soapy 1972-76 BBC series The Brothers as Brian Hammond, one of three siblings taking over a haulage company after their father dies, played Captain Stapley on Doctor Who in 1982 and portrayed Benjamin Franklin in a 2002 PBS miniseries.

And on the big screen, he showed up in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989) and Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000) and was Kathy Bates' husband in Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road (2008).

Born on March 22, 1933, in Montreal, Easton in 1957 appeared in his first three Broadway plays for producer John Houseman — Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew (directed by Norman Lloyd) and The Duchess of Malfi — and received a Theatre World Award for his turn as Mr. Harcourt in The Country Wife.

A longtime member of the Phoenix Repertory Company, he also appeared in The Cherry Orchard, Cock-a-Doodle Dandy, Noises Off, Henry IV and Macbeth during his long stage career.