In Memory

David Dukes

David Dukes

L-R: David Dukes in Bent ; Amadeus; and M. Butterfly

Broadway Actor David Dukes 11 Oct 2000 L-R: David Dukes in Bent ; Amadeus; and M. Butterfly L-R: David Dukes in Bent ; Amadeus; and M. Butterfly Photo by Photos by James Hamilton (Bent) and Martha Swope (Amadeus) The respected Broadway, film and TV actor David Dukes died Oct. 9 near Tacoma, WA, after collapsing on his day off from filming a TV miniseries, according to wire reports. The respected Broadway, film and TV actor David Dukes died Oct. 9 near Tacoma, WA, after collapsing on his day off from filming a TV miniseries, according to wire reports. The Tony Award-nominated actor, remembered for turns in Broadway's Bent (which earned him a Best Featured Actor nom), Dracula, Amadeus, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and Arthur Miller's Broken Glass, was 55 years old. Although Reuters reported he apparently suffered a heart attack on the set of a TV miniseries, Stephen King's "Rose Red," The Los Angeles Times reported he collapsed at a sports center on his day off. Efforts to revive him at a local hospital were unsuccessful. Ed Duke of the Pierce County medical examiner's office to the L.A. Times the cause of death was an apparent heart attack. There were reportedly several days of shooting left in the miniseries, in which Mr. Dukes played an evil professor.A production statement said producers were "considering the creative options for the scenes he had yet to shoot," the L.A. Times reported. Mr. Dukes' TV credits include "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance," and recently "Dawson's Creek," in which he played Mr. McPhee, a parent who struggled with his son's homosexuality. Advertisement Mr. Dukes appeared in 35 motion pictures, including "Gods and Monsters," Neil Simon's "Only When I Laugh," "Me and the Kid" and many TV movies, including "The Josephine Baker Story," "Cat on Hot Tin Roof" (in 1985) and "And the Band Played On." He was also a regular on the TV series "Sisters" and "The Mommies." On Broadway, he replaced John Lithgow in the provocative political drama, M. Butterfly, acted with Richard Gere in the Nazi war camp play Bent and famously replaced Ron Silver in a Broadway-bound regional staging of Miller's Broken Glass in 1994, when Silver suddenly exited the production at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT. He received a Tony nomination for his work in Bent. A San Francisco native, Mr. Dukes made his Broadway debut in School for Wives in 1971. Broadway roles in The Play's the Thing, Don Juan, The Visit, Chemin de Fer, Holiday, Rules of the Game, Love for Love and Travesties followed. In July and August 2000, Mr. Dukes appeared in Art, under the direction of Judd Hirsch, at Maine's Ogunquit Playhouse. He acted in a radio version of the play, A Fair Country in Los Angeles in 1998. His wife, the writer Carol Muske-Dukes, survives him, as do two children. Muske-Dukes recently penned a New York Times article about what is was like to be married to an actor. She observed that Dukes was often remembered — unfortunately — for playing a rapist who attacked Edith Bunker on TV's "All in the Family." The piece appeared in The Times' Sunday Magazine March 19, 2000, under the headline, "I Married the Ice-Pick Killer." — By Kenneth Jones

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04/03/13 06:27 PM #1    

Tom Graff (Graefe)


I worked with David in high school and he saved my bacon with his relaxed demeanor on stage. When others forgot their lines David would re-write them in his head and then act out the dialogue so I could keep going. Most of my lines were jokes and he had to feed me the straight line, but, wow, was he a walking genius. He thrived on that Redwood High stage! [Tom Graefe]


Carol Muske, David's wife is a USC professor of English and creative writing. This great essay first appeared in the NYTimes and was adapted from ''A Poet in Hollywood,'' a collection of her work.


Lives; I Married the Ice-Pick Killer

By Carol Muske

Published: March 19, 2000


Arriving late to a dinner party a while back, my husband and I approached the dining room, where people were already seated. A woman rose up from her chair, pointed a finger at David and cried, ''My God, you're the one who raped Edith Bunker!''I glanced at him. He'd already been established as a cross-dresser, and he'd confessed to Frank Sinatra, of all people, that he was the ice-pick killer. My husband smiled calmly. ''I didn't rape her,'' he explained. ''I tried, but she hit me in the face with a hot cake from the oven.''My husband is an actor, in case you haven't already guessed. And of all the strange marriages I've witnessed in my life (competitors in politics or business, for instance, or lovey-dovey Siamese-twin-like unions), none come close to the existential challenge of life with a thespian.The day of our wedding I knew I had not only married an actor, I had also married an actor's life -- and thereby taken a role in a ''partnership'' akin to that between an orbiting astronaut and Mission Control. As I waved goodbye to my new mate, hurrying off from the reception to his evening performance as Salieri in ''Amadeus,'' I realized I was waving goodbye to the way I'd lived up till then -- as a poet and teacher of writing, a life that had provided me with a modicum of control over my own fate.David has likened actors to wallflowers at a prom, waiting for a producer or agent to ask them to dance. But once gestured to, the actor leaps up, tangoing on table tops, belting out show tunes, ripping off his spectacles, crying, ''Yes, yes, yes!'' Living with an actor is like living with someone who keeps getting kidnapped. And longs to be kidnapped.At 10 in the morning, he's lying on the couch groaning that he'll never work again. The phone rings, and a few hours later, he's throwing that last pair of socks into his suitcase and flying off -- to where? Toronto? Prague? Buenos Aires? He'll call when he gets there. I gave birth to our daughter, Annie, on a mini-series schedule. David was on a 10-day break at the time, affording us a brief, golden moment at home. But when production resumed on the opposite coast, he was gone.I was stunned and resentful when he left. Then, after years of trying to plan vacations, birthday celebrations and travel for my own work around his constantly changing schedule, I began to understand that a job is more than just a job to an actor. It is more than the money or fame. It is the chance for transformation. As a writer, I rely on words to create a voice, an identity. But an actor goes a step further -- he or she literally embodies the voice, the created self. This can make acting seem less like a career and more like a proactive search for psychosis.Unlike mad poets, actors often confront their psychoses in luxurious settings: over catered meals, with gofers at the ready, in the pseudo-intimate atmosphere of a television or film set. Not to mention the pseudo-intimate atmosphere of bigamy. David has been ''married'' to Lindsay Wagner, Mira Sorvino, Connie Sellecca and Jaclyn Smith, among others. He survived nicely a gender-bending liaison with B. D. Wong and a concentration-camp love affair with Richard Gere. Yet I ask myself, How many of these performers can compose a sestina? Can the young woman from Wardrobe who calls to ask me what size underwear David wears generate a triolet?Despite ostensible glamour, actors follow the crops like migrant laborers. The actor's spouse (male or female, though in these cases usually female) tags along -- for a while. Until the children reach school age (or until your own career interferes), it's possible, though not desirable, to live in hotel rooms around the world. Sooner or later, though, it becomes necessary to establish a parallel life -- and adjust to periods of absence. Daily long-distance phone calls, photos of sets and hotel rooms and ''travelogue'' letters can all soothe separation anxiety.Annie is now 16. She and I recently flew to London, where David was appearing in the play ''Art.'' She misses her father when he goes away, and he has been absent for a few important moments in her life. (Though she has caught a few of his performances -- starting at age 4, when she inadvertently saw his ice-pick-killer confession in the bathtub on TV and wept along with him.) Yet as we sit in the darkened theater and I see her bright face turned up toward the stage, I ask myself, How many children get to see Dad utterly, artfully reinvented before their eyes? And to recognize that this transformation is wondrous? And to know that wonder is what work can be, when the work is art and the art is your life?Carol Muske, a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Southern California, is married to the actor David Dukes. This essay is adapted from ''A Poet in Hollywood,'' a forthcoming collection of her work.


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