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Obituaries

Jack Colvin, 71; Known for Role in TV's 'Hulk'

December 05, 2005|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Jack Colvin, a popular character actor who co-starred with Bill Bixby as the abrasive tabloid reporter Jack McGee in the 1970s television series "The Incredible Hulk," has died. He was 71.

Colvin died Thursday in a North Hollywood nursing home of complications following a stroke he suffered Oct. 22.

The "Hulk" series, based on the Marvel Comics hero, ran from 1977 to 1982 on CBS, featuring Bixby as a scientist frustrated and angry over being too weak to save his wife's life in a car crash. He subjects himself to gamma rays to explore extraordinary strength, and when he becomes enraged, turns into a most un-jolly green giant (played by bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno).

Colvin, who had a long history as a stage actor, was dubious about the series when he was asked to sign on.

"When they told me the title, I laughed.... But then they gave me two scripts to read and I knew the series would go," he told The Times shortly before the series ended. "People identify tremendously with the frustration, the rage and the anger that breaks out in a man."

Times reviewer Kevin Thomas wrote when the series began in 1977 that it "is incredible, all right -- but that doesn't mean it isn't also lots of fun and even poignant besides."

Thomas and other reviewers praised Colvin's work as McGee, with one even commending the actor for doing "more with this character than it probably deserves."

Colvin also directed a few episodes of the series.

A native of Lyndon, Kan., Colvin moved to Los Angeles with his family at an early age and became a child stage actor. At age 17 he became a private student of the actor and teacher Michael Chekhov, and later taught the Chekhov acting technique at USC, Cal State Northridge, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Central School of Cinematography in Rome.

In the 1960s, Colvin teamed with Yvonne Wilder as a comedy duo, Colvin and Wilder, performing at Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills and on television variety shows.

Colvin's other television work included appearances in "The Rat Patrol," "Kojak," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Rockford Files," "Quincy," "Cagney and Lacey" and "Murder, She Wrote." On the big screen, he had minor roles in several films, including "Scorpio" and "Rooster Cogburn."

An active member of Theatre East in Studio City for 20 years, Colvin directed such productions as "Dead End at Sunset" in 1990 and acted in many others. The theater company staged "Girly, Girly and The Real McCoy," which Colvin wrote.

He was prominent in other small theaters locally, directing plays ranging from his former partner Wilder's comedy "Weehawken" at the Tiffany in 1988 to Shakespeare's "Hamlet" at the Melrose Theater in 1993.

At the time of his death, Colvin was the artistic director of the Michael Chekhov Studio, USA West.

He had no immediate survivors.

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