Jane Ward, Dancer
Dancer Jane Ward died of a stroke in her Manhattan apartment on Wed., Jan. 3.
An active member of AFTRA, SAG, and AEA, Ward worked extensively with AFTRA's New York Local Performers' Seminar Committee, where for over 20 years she organized informational talks by leading performers for the union's members. Ward's guests over the years included Blythe Danner, James Earl Jones, Frank Langella, Betty Buckley, Renee Taylor, Joe Bologna, Philip Bosco, and Rebecca Luker. In addition, she was a frequent delegate to AFTRA Conventions.
Ward's performance credits included the radio programs "Lorenzo Jones," "Second Husband," and "The U.S. Steel Hour" with Laurence Olivier; and also a variety of roles in American Theatre Wing productions in addition to being Betty Field's understudy in "A New Life," a play by Elmer Rice.
Al Waxman, 65, Actor
Actor Al Waxman died of complications following heart bypass surgery on Fri., Jan. 19. He was 65.
Waxman was perhaps best known as Lt. Bert Samuels in the CBS Emmy Award-winning series "Cagney & Lacey," but he was one of Canada's most prominent figures in entertainment, having been involved with over 1,000 radio, theatre, TV, and film projects as either actor or director during his lifetime. For the past two years, the actor co-starred as Judge Othniel on the PAX channel's "Twice in a Lifetime."
Most recently, Waxman worked on the TV movies "What Makes a Family" with Brooke Shields and Whoopi Goldberg; and "Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," the biopic in which he portrayed Louis B. Mayer. At the time of his death he was slated to play Shylock in an upcoming production of Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice."
Michael Williams, 65, Actor
Actor Michael Williams died of cancer at his home on Thurs., Jan. 11. He was 65.
Williams began his career with various amateur dramatic groups before moving on to the RAF and then auditioning for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In 1963, Peter Hall asked him to join the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he met his future wife of thirty years, Judi Dench. The couple appeared together on several occasions—in the TV series "A Fine Romance," and in stage productions including "Mr. and Mrs. Nobody" at the Garrick Theatre (1986).
Most recently, Williams won acclaim as the 17th century gossip John Aubrey in his one-man show at both the Duchess Theatre (1998) and at the Royal National Theatre in the Forest (1999).
Harvey J. Klaris, 61, Producer
Producer Harvey J. Klaris died of heart failure in New York on Fri., Jan. 12, according to The New York Times. He was 61.
Klaris' career as a Broadway producer included the Tony Award-winning "Nine," in addition to "The Tap Dance Kid," "On the Waterfront," and "Cloud Nine."
He was a lawyer and investment banker who served as founder and president of Cloud Nine Capital, an investment banking body in NY, and a former co-owner of Sardi's. He formed and ran Precision Films in the '80s. Also, Klaris had been involved in the toy industry since 1993. He specialized in leveraged financing and buyouts of small to mid-cap corporations, acting as lead banker for financing and acquisitions such as Empire of Carolina (maker of "Big Wheel") and Buddy Toys. He also headed the acquisition and financing of the $50 million toy retail chain, Imaginarium.
Beverley Peck Johnson, 96, Voice Teacher
Voice teacher Beverley Peck Johnson died in Manhattan on Sat., Jan. 20. She was 96.
Johnson taught at the Juilliard School for nearly four decades, and her students included Renee Fleming, Faith Esham, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Robert White. At her private studio, she taught the likes of Renata Tebaldi, Evelyn Lear, Anna Moffo, Giorgio Tozzi, Mignon Dunn, Theodor Uppman, and Phyllis Bryn-Julson. Actors Madeline Kahn, Kevin Kline, and Blythe Danner are also among those who came to Johnson for voice lessons and coaching; in addition, she was Lyndon B. Johnson's post-operative speech coach after he had some vocal nodules removed during his presidency.
Johnson's skill as an accompanist enabled her to work professionally, playing for Martha Atwood and Sigurd Nilssen, among others. Her training began at the White Conservatory in Portland, Ore., where she graduated with a double major in drama and speech. After moving to New York and studying to be an accompanist with conductor Andre Kostelanetz, she studied voice with tenor Hardesty Johnson, whom she married and with whom she toured as an accompanist.
In addition to Juilliard, Johnson was on the faculty of the School of Sacred Music, Union Theological Seminary (1960-65), and the Manhattan School of Music (1982-89). She also served as an adjunct professor at the Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn College.