Monday, February 25, 2008

Dennis Letts

At the opening night of August: Osage County, I had the privilege of seeing many Chicago-based actors making their Broadway debuts. One of these actors was Dennis Letts, who played the brief but pivotal role of Beverly Weston in the play's prologue. Letts, the father of the play's author Tracy Letts, succumbed to lung cancer yesterday, February 24, at the age of 73. He had been diagnosed in August of 2007 after the Steppenwolfe run of August had ended, but in spite of his ill health and poor prognosis he insisted on continuing with the show. Incredibly reminiscent of Kathleen Freeman, who was dying of cancer during her run in The Full Monty (and left the show only a week before her death in August 2001), Mr. Letts continued to work for as long as he could without giving any indication of being in such poor health (he left the show in late January). Letts is survived by his wife, author Billie Letts and his sons, as well as a considerable body of work as a character actor in film and television.

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