Very sad news for TV and film viewers: the veteran character actor Maury Chaykin died last night, just one day short of his 61st birthday. Most recently we knew Chaykin as the father on Less Than Kind, which incorporated his health problems into some of the stories in its second season. His biggest part was Nero Wolfe in the A&E adaptation of the Rex Stout mysteries (opposite Timothy Hutton as the Watson-esque Archie Goodwin). He was also, as you can see from his filmography, a classic “hey, it’s that guy” actor, dependably making the most of small roles in film and television. For example, his role as Tod Johnson (“one bark for good, two barks for evil”) in Danny Boyle’s movie A Life Less Ordinary.
One hopes that Less Than Kind will still go on for a third season as planned; it’s certainly the kind of show that can deal openly and interestingly with the death of a character. But he was one of the best things on that show, and he will definitely be missed. Here’s Jim Henshaw’s tribute to him.
And here he is earlier this year being interviewed on CBC’s Q, talking about Less Than Kind and other subjects:
Update, from comments: “Chaykin deserves a much more effusive obituary than this! Whale Music! Amazing cameo in Dances with Wolves – absolutely amazing, a small but crucial ambiance-setting role, which Costner often praised for its brilliance and importance. and much more.”