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Cliff Gorman, 65; Tony-Winning Stage, Film and Television Actor

September 14, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Actor Cliff Gorman, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of comedian Lenny Bruce on Broadway and fashioned a steady career as a stage, film and television actor, has died. He was 65.

Gorman died of leukemia Sept. 5 at his home in New York City.

Born in Queens, N.Y., Gorman attended UCLA and the University of New Mexico, where he took drama classes.

Gorman graduated from New York University with a degree in education.

After college, he worked as a probation officer, a truck driver and an ambulance driver.

When he wasn't working, Gorman was studying acting. He was a member of Jerome Robbins' American Theater Lab in 1966-67.

His career took off in 1968 after he won an Obie Award for his off-Broadway portrayal of the flamboyant gay character Emory in "The Boys in the Band." Gorman also played the role in the 1970 film version.

The 1971 Broadway play "Lenny," which followed Bruce's career as a nightclub comedian through run-ins with the police and courts, was a smash hit.

Gorman's work drew strong critical notice and an enthusiastic audience response. But the role of "Lenny" in the film version went to Dustin Hoffman.

In 1978, Gorman was nominated for another Tony for his role as Leo in "Chapter Two," a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon.

Gorman also was a film actor and made his screen debut in George Cukor's adaptation of the Lawrence Durrell novel "Justine," which was released in 1969.

Gorman also appeared in Otto Preminger's "Rosebud" (1975); "An Unmarried Woman" (1978), with Jill Clayburgh; "Night and the City" (1992), with Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange; and "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" (1999).

He played Abbie Hoffman in a 1970 British television program about the Chicago Eight, and made guest appearances on the television shows "Law and Order," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Police Story."

He is survived by his wife, Gayle.

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