RIP Evan Thompson
Veteran Stage Actor Evan Thompson Dies at 83
March 6, 2015
Evan Thompson, a New York City-based theatre actor whose long and eclectic career included work in cabaret, children's shows, summer stock, regional theatre, and on and off Broadway, died Feb. 28, 2015, in Brooklyn, NY, at the Hopkins Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare following a long respiratory illness. He was 83 years old.
A battle with lung cancer in recent years didn't keep Mr. Thompson from continuing to pursue a lifelong passion for performing. In May 2014, he was featured in the original cast of Kate Benson's acclaimed Off-Broadway play "A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes," for New Georges at Dixon Place. (It was a source of frustration to Mr. Thompson that he was not well enough to recreate his role in Benson's play when it was remounted at City Center Stage II in January of this year. He was champing at the bit to return to the stage, his family said.)
As recently as last November, Mr. Thompson and his wife, actress Joan Shepard, traveled to Massachusetts to perform for schoolchildren as part of The Fanfare Theatre Ensemble, the theatre troupe they founded in 1971. Over the years they wrote, performed, designed and directed a dozen of their own adaptations of fairy tales and classic children's stories - sometimes working with their own children, Jenn Thompson and Owen Thompson - for thousands of wide-eyed school kids.
"My father had the purest spirit and the truest heart of anyone I have ever known," son Owen Thompson said, "It is utterly appropriate that his final performance was given to a theatre full of adoring children. He never lost contact with the child in the deepest place of his soul."
Mr. Thompson's immediate survivors include Joan Shepard, his wife since 1959, of Manhattan; daughter Jenn Thompson, son-in-law Stephen Kunken and granddaughter Naomi, of Brooklyn; and son Owen Thompson of Manhattan.
Theatre was a family affair for the Thompson-Shepard clan in other ways: Mr. Thompson and Joan Shepard were among a small group of actors and producing partners enlisted by director Jane Stanton in 1987 to help launch a summer stock season at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT, which had fallen on hard times. Their Equity-affiliated River Rep Theatre Company would have a run there of almost twenty years and later employed Mr. Thompson's children, who also later became producing partners with their parents, along with actors Stephen Kunken and Warren Kelley.
Born: 9/3/1931, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 2/28/2015, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Evan Thompson’s western – actor:
Bat Masterson (TV) – 1960 (Steve Fansler)