Acting news, Welsh news, gay news, Jewish news, real-estate news

The solid and very enjoyable actor Roger Rees died on the 10th; here I want to celebrate some aspects of his life that not everyone might have appreciated. Much of this is compacted in this photograph:

(#1)

Roger Rees, the actor, left, and Rick Elice, the playwright, at their Upper West Side apartment

From Wikipedia:

Roger Rees (5 May 1944 – 10 July 2015) was a Welsh actor and director, widely known for his stage work. He won an Olivier Award and a Tony Award for his performance as the lead in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

… He was widely known to American television audiences for playing the characters Robin Colcord in Cheers and Lord John Marbury in The West Wing.

Rees grew up in working-class Wales, followed his early artistic interests to the Slade, moved from stage design to acting on stage, notably in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and then branched out to movies and tv.

That’s the acting news. Then: some stories about his death describe him as an “English actor”. No no no. “British actor” would be possible, but the man was never English, though he lived in England for some years. Wikipedia got the nationality thing right.

In any case, Rees had lived in the US for 25 years before his death, and he became a naturalized US citizen in 1989. That is, he became a Welsh-born American actor.

The story that goes along with #1 was “Upstairs at the Beresford” by Joanne Kaufman, in the NYT on 6/23/13. Highlights:

When the actor Roger Rees and the playwright Rick Elice became a couple in 1982, work kept them in separate cities: first London, then Los Angeles for Mr. Rees, New York for Mr. Elice. Jet lag was chronic, the frequent-flier miles many.

In 1996, when the two decided to move in together and make Manhattan their base of operations, a real estate agent got busy, winnowing the possibilities to two.

… The [second] option was a four-room aerie at Emery Roth’s storied masterwork the Beresford, at 211 Central Park West.

… The neighborhood itself is equally dazzling to the couple, who married in 2011. “This corner of Central Park West and 81st is the most expansive in the city, because there’s park on three sides,” Mr. Elice said. “We’re five minutes from the Metropolitan Museum.”

So there’s the gay news along with the real-estate news.

About the Beresford, from Wikipedia:

The Beresford, at 211 Central Park West, between 81st and 82nd Streets, is a luxury, 23-floor “pre-war” apartment building in New York City. Designed by the architect Emery Roth, The Beresford, completed in 1929, is one of the most prestigious addresses in Manhattan and one of city’s most elite co-ops running along Central Park West.

Don’t even think about asking how much it would cost to live there.

(#2)

Rees and Elice became a couple in 1982 and then married in 2011. (They’ve also collaborated professionally.) Early in their days together, Rees converted to Judaism, for the sake of Elice, who is a Jew by birth. That’s the Jewish news.

From all accounts, Rees had the gift of friendship; the story of Rees and Elice furnishing their place at the Beresford is packed full of references to odd items from their friends.

Not bad for a dirt-poor Welsh kid.

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