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Obituaries

Michael Evans, 87; actor starred in 'Gigi', 'My Fair Lady' and TV's 'The Young and the Restless'

September 26, 2007|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Michael Evans, a stage and screen actor best known to television audiences for his long-running role as Col. Douglas Austin on the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless," has died. He was 87.

Evans, who starred on Broadway with a young Audrey Hepburn in "Gigi," died Sept. 4 at a Woodland Hills assisted-living facility of complications related to age, said his son, Nick Evans.

From 1980 to 1995, Evans appeared on "The Young and the Restless" as the best friend and sidekick of arrogant billionaire Victor Newman, played by Eric Braeden.

When Evans returned to the show in 1987 after a break, the Toronto Star said he brought back "great wit and comic relief."

"Michael Evans was a total professional from the old English school, a gentleman through and through," Braeden told The Times on Tuesday in a statement.

A native of England, Evans arrived on Broadway in 1950 to play a secretive secretary in the comedy "Ring Round the Moon." A year later, he appeared as the debonair Gaston in the original Broadway production of "Gigi" that helped launch Hepburn's career.

In the late 1950s, Evans was cast as professor Henry Higgins in the national touring production of "My Fair Lady," a part he played for years. Critics noted his sharp resemblance to Rex Harrison, Broadway's original Higgins. In 1961, The Times called Evans' turn as Higgins "expert and vital."

The role remained a career highlight, partly because of the company's 1960 tour of Russia, which brought Western culture to the country at the height of the Cold War, his son said.

John Michael Evans was born July 27, 1920, in Sittingbourne, England, to the former Marie Galbraith, a concert violinist, and A.J. Evans, a World War I prisoner-of-war escapee who wrote the 1926 novel "The Escaping Club."

At 12, Evans saw John Gielgud in the Shakespeare play "Richard II," and decided that he "wanted to be an actor from then on," he told the Toronto Star in 1992.

During World War II, Evans served as a navigator for the Royal Air Force and flew during the blitz of London.

After graduating in 1943 from Winchester College in England, he studied at the Old Vic School in London and debuted on the London stage in 1948. That same year, he married Pat Wedgewood; they had two sons and divorced after 25 years.

While making the 1963 film "Bye Bye Birdie," Evans decided to move West and eventually appeared in more than 40 films and television shows. He lived in North Hollywood for many years.

His second wife, Pat Sigris Evans, died in 1986.

In addition to his son, Nick, Evans is survived by another son, Christopher, of Westport, Calif.; and two sisters, Rosemarie and Bridget.

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valerie.nelson@latimes.com

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