Roderick Cook

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Roderick Cook
Born(1932-02-09)9 February 1932
London, England
Died 17 August 1990(1990-08-17) (aged 58)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Playwright, theatre director, actor
Years active 1954–90

Roderick Cook (9 February 1932 – 17 August 1990) was an English playwright, writer, theatre director and actor of stage, television and film. Cook is known for creating, directing and starring in the musical review Oh, Coward! and portraying Count Von Strack in the Oscar-winning film Amadeus .

Oh, Coward! is a musical revue in two acts devised by Roderick Cook and containing music and lyrics by Noël Coward. The revue consists of two men and one woman in formal dress, performing songs based on the following themes: England, family album, travel, theatre, love and women. There are also sketches, such as "London Pastoral" which tells of the joys of London in the spring, "Family Album" about relatives who "were not excessively bright", and a scene with excerpts from several of Coward's plays, such as Private Lives.

<i>Amadeus</i> (film) 1984 film by Miloš Forman

Amadeus is a 1984 American period drama film directed by Miloš Forman, adapted by Peter Shaffer from his stage play Amadeus. The story, set in Vienna, Austria, during the latter half of the 18th century, is a fictionalized biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart's music is heard extensively in the soundtrack of the film. The film follows Italian composer Antonio Salieri's rivalry with Mozart at the court of Emperor Joseph II.



Cook attended Queens' College, Cambridge, [1] graduating in 1953, and then began his career appearing in plays at London's West End during the 1950s. He made his professional stage debut in 1954 as Feste in Twelfth Night ; a production directed by Peter Hall. That same year, he worked under Hall again in the English language premiere of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at the Arts Theatre, London. He also starred alongside Maggie Smith in the original 1954 production of Listen to the Wind at the Oxford Playhouse. Cook worked with Smith again in the original 1957 production of Share My Lettuce at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. In 1956, Cook worked under Hall's direction as Gaston in the English language premiere of The Waltz of the Toreadors at London's Arts Theatre where he played opposite Hugh Griffith and Beatrix Lehmann. In 1957, he appeared in the ill-fated musical Zuleika at the Saville Theatre.

Queens College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

Queens' College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. Queens' is one of the oldest and the largest colleges of the university, founded in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou, and has some of the most recognisable buildings in Cambridge. The college spans both sides of the river Cam, colloquially referred to as the "light side" and the "dark side", with the Mathematical Bridge connecting the two.

West End theatre term for mainstream professional theatre staged in and near the West End of London

West End theatre is a common term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of "Theatreland" in and near the West End of London. Along with New York City's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.

<i>Twelfth Night</i> play by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601–1602 as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with the Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.

Cook made his first film appearance in the 1959 British film Idle on Parade . Two years later, he made his first television appearance as a guest star on the series Jango followed by work on the series No Hiding Place . Shortly thereafter, he emigrated to the United States, making his Broadway debut as Lord Neville in the 1961 musical Kean . He returned to Broadway two years later to portray Peter Northbrook in Noël Coward's 1963 musical The Girl Who Came to Supper followed by the role of Edward in the 1964 play Roar Like a Dove. In February 1965, Cook began writing book reviews and poetry for Harper's Magazine . He wrote nineteen entries for the magazine over the next two years, with his last entry appearing in the November 1967 issue. In 1969, Cook returned to Broadway when he replaced Alec McCowen as Fr. William Rolfe in Hadrian the Seventh . That same year, he portrayed the role of Scrivens in the original cast of James Saunders' A Scent of Flowers at the Martinique Theatre.

Jango is a crime-comedy series produced in 1961 by Associated Rediffusion for ITV. It starred Robert Urquhart in the lead role of Jango Smith, with Moira Redmond as Dee Smith, his wife. The show also featured performances by Peter Sallis and Brian Wilde.

<i>No Hiding Place</i> television series

No Hiding Place is a British television series that was produced at Wembley Studios by Associated-Rediffusion for the ITV network between 16 September 1959 and 22 June 1967.

<i>Kean</i> (musical) musical

Kean is a musical with a book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest.

In the late 1960s, Cook began appearing sporadically in American television appearing on such programmes as the Hallmark Hall of Fame (1967), One Life to Live (1968) and Lotsa Luck (1973). He also appeared in several films during the 1970s including Our Time (1974), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) and Girlfriends (1978).

<i>Hallmark Hall of Fame</i> television series

Hallmark Hall of Fame, originally called Hallmark Television Playhouse, is an anthology program on American television, sponsored by Hallmark Cards, a Kansas City-based greeting card company. The longest-running primetime series in the history of television, it first aired in 1951 and continues into the present day. From 1954 onward, all of its productions have been broadcast in color. It is one of the first video productions to telecast in color, a rarity in the 1950s. Many television movies have been shown on the program since its debut, though the program began with live telecasts of dramas and then changed to videotaped productions before finally changing to filmed ones.

<i>One Life to Live</i> American television series

One Life to Live is an American soap opera broadcast on the ABC television network for more than 43 years, from July 15, 1968, to January 13, 2012, and then on the internet as a web series on Hulu and iTunes via The Online Network from April 29 to August 19, 2013. Created by Agnes Nixon, the series was the first daytime drama to primarily feature ethnically and socioeconomically diverse characters and consistently emphasize social issues. One Life to Live was expanded from 30 minutes to 45 minutes on July 26, 1976, and then to an hour on January 16, 1978.

<i>Lotsa Luck</i> television series

Lotsa Luck is an American sitcom that aired during the 1973–74 television season on the NBC Friday evening schedule. The series stars Dom DeLuise as bachelor Stanley Belmont who lives with his bossy mother, his sister Olive and her unemployed husband, Arthur. Jack Knight stars as Stanley's best friend, Bummy.

On the stage, Cook remained active off-Broadway and in regional theatre productions during the 1970s, but did not appear in a single Broadway show during the decade. His greatest success came from Oh, Coward! , a musical revue that Cook devised himself on the life and works of Noël Coward. The production premiered off-Broadway on 4 October 1972 and was one of the last Noël Coward shows staged during Coward's lifetime. Cook directed and starred in the show which ran for a total of 294 performances. The show then proceeded to tour the United States and Britain over the next several years in London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco among other cities. His other stage credits during this time include Ernest in Design for Living opposite Maggie Smith at the Ahmanson Theatre and Lincoln Center (1971) and the Devil in Don Juan in Hell at the Alley Theatre (1979). Cook also worked as a director on several productions in the 1970s, including directing Peter O'Toole in both Present Laughter and Uncle Vanya in 1978.

An Off-Broadway theatre is any professional venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatres, but larger than Off-Off-Broadway theatres, which seat fewer than 100.

Noël Coward English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer

Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".

<i>Design for Living</i> 1932 play written by Noël Coward

Design for Living is a comedy play written by Noël Coward in 1932. It concerns a trio of artistic characters, Gilda, Otto and Leo, and their complicated three-way relationship. Originally written to star Lynn Fontanne, Alfred Lunt and Coward, it was premiered on Broadway, partly because its risqué subject matter was thought unacceptable to the official censor in London. It was not until 1939 that a London production was presented.

In 1980, Cook returned to Broadway to portray Beverly Carlton in the revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner . For his performance, he received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play. That same year he devised a musical revue of the works of William Roy, entitled Special Delivery, that premiered at the Oakland West Dinner Theatre in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. In 1981, Cook returned to Broadway as Gerald in the 1981 musical Woman of the Year , a role he played for two years. In 1982, he directed Tom Ziegler's The Ninth Step at the Riverwest Theatre in New York City. In 1987, he received a Tony Award nomination for his role in the original Broadway cast of Oh Coward!, a production which he also directed.

<i>The Man Who Came to Dinner</i>

The Man Who Came to Dinner is a comedy in three acts by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It debuted on October 16, 1939, at the Music Box Theatre in New York City, where it ran until 1941, closing after 739 performances. It then enjoyed a number of New York and London revivals. The first London production was staged at The Savoy Theatre starring Robert Morley and Coral Browne. In 1990, Browne stated in a televised biographical interview, broadcast on UK Channel 4, that she bought the rights to the play, borrowing money from her dentist to do so. When she died, her will revealed that she had received royalties for all future productions and adaptations.

Drama Desk Award theater awards

The Drama Desk Awards are presented annually and were first awarded in 1955 to recognize excellence in New York theatre productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway productions were excluded until the 1968–69 award season. The awards are considered a significant American theatre distinction.

Lauderdale Lakes, Florida City in Florida

Lauderdale Lakes, officially the City of Lauderdale Lakes, is a city in Broward County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 32,593. It is part of the Miami–Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is home to 5,564,635 people.

During the 1980s, Cook remained active in television with his work consisting of such series as One Life to Live (1983), All My Children (1985), Newhart (1988), Sledge Hammer! (1988), MacGyver (1988), Tattingers (1989) and Tales from the Crypt (aired posthumously in 1992) among others. He also portrayed Count Von Strack in the film Amadeus (1984) and Von Klammer in Garbo Talks (also 1984). His other film credits include Silent Madness (1984), 9½ Weeks (1986), Spellbinder (1988) and A More Perfect Union (1989).

Cook died of a heart attack on 17 August 1990 in Los Angeles.


Year Title Role Notes
1959 Idol on Parade Uncredited
1974 Our Time Headmaster
1975 The Great Waldo Pepper Werfel
1978 Girlfriends Simon Carpel
1984 Amadeus Count Von Strack
1984 Garbo Talks Von Klammer
1984 Silent Madness Dr. Kruger
1986 9½ Weeks Sinclair - the Critic
1988 Spellbinder Ed Kennerle
1989 A More Perfect Union Nathaniel Gorham

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  1. "Roderick Cook, Actor on Stage, Dead at 58". The New York Times . 19 August 1990. Retrieved 2012-06-10.