‘Cheers’ star dies: Roger Rees

Published: July 12, 2015

‘Cheers’ star dies: Roger Rees, Tributes have been paid to the stage and screen actor Roger Rees, whose death at the age of 71 was announced by his agent in New York on Saturday.

On television, Rees was best known for his part in the 1980s sitcom Cheers as Robin Colcord, the millionaire who pursued Kirstie Alley as Rebecca, and as British ambassador Lord John Marbury in the political drama The West Wing. Rees also had recurring roles in sitcom Singles, and recently appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife.

He was a prolific theatre and Shakespearean actor who won Tony and Olivier awards for his appearances on Broadway, which included the title character in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s critically acclaimed The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Gomez in the Addams Family, the 2013 revival of Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy, Uncle Vanya and Indiscretions.

Roger Rees in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
At the RSC, Rees was one of a group of actors who came of age under director Trevor Nunn in the 1970s, including Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith and Alan Bates. In 2004 he became artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, a company that showcased contemporary and classical drama.

Rees also appeared as the Sheriff of Rottingham in Mel Brooks’s slapstick comedy Robin Hood: Men in Tights in 1993 as well as The Scorpion King, Frida and The Pink Panther (2006).

He settled in New York in his early 40s and in 2011 married American stage actor and Jersey Boys writer Rick Elice with whom he co-wrote a successful comedy thriller, Double, Double, which ran in London’s West End.

Roger Rees as Lord Marbury in The West Wing
A Welshman who became famous playing a stuffy Englishman and then spent the last third of his life in America, Rees was the son of a policeman and studied painting in south London. It was when he was painting scenery at Wimbledon Theatre that he fell into acting.

The actor abruptly left Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s musical The Visit on Broadway in early June to undergo a medical procedure. The cause of his death, at his New York home, was not revealed on Saturday night.

On Twitter, tributes were paid by fans and stars. Actor and director Samuel West said he “woke to the sad news of Roger Rees’s death” before posting pictures of him in high-profile stage roles.

Sir Patrick Stewart wrote: “Brilliant actor, dear friend and colleague, witty, kind, private man. A space is left that cannot be filled.”

Choreographer Matthew Bourne said: “RIP #RogerRees – a lovely, generous & kind man & an heroic & passionate actor. We all fell in love with him in #NicholasNickleby so sad.”

Musician Rick Wakeman tweeted: “Very sad to learn of the passing of Roger Rees. I saw him last year at a Water Rats Lodge. A truly lovely man and very talented too.”

– Samuel West (@exitthelemming) July 11, 2015
Woke to the sad news of Roger Rees’s death. Here he is w/ Michael Williams in Trevor Nunn’s 1976 RSC Comedy of Errors pic.twitter.com/yFoHaLSnS8

– Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) July 11, 2015
Brilliant actor, dear friend and colleague, witty, kind, private man, Roger Rees died this morning. A space is left that cannot be filled.

– Matthew Bourne (@Mattbourne1) July 11, 2015
RIP #RogerRees – a lovely, generous & kind man & an heroic & passionate actor. We all fell in love with him in #NicholasNickleby ❤️ so sad

– Rick Wakeman (@GrumpyOldRick) July 11, 2015
Very sad to learn of the passing of Roger Rees. I saw him last year at a Water Rats Lodge . A truly lovely man and very talented too.

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