Harve Presnell, American actor and singer, Died at 75

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Dead, Harve Presnell on June 30, 2009 at the age of 75, he was an American actor and singer. He began his career in the mid-1950s as a classical baritone, singing with orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States.

Born as George Harvey Presnell in September 14, 1933, in Modesto, California. He made his professional stage debut performing in an opera at the young age of sixteen.

He attended the University of Southern California, earning a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance.

He then pursued further vocal studies in Europe and at the Music Academy of the West. He appeared with a number of opera companies and orchestras during the 1950s.

On November 3, 1960, The Unsinkable Molly Brown opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre to a resounding success. Presnell stayed with the show for its entire 532 performance run, which ended on February 10, 1962. He reprised the role in the 1964 film The Unsinkable Molly Brown for which he won a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.

He starred in two films in 1965: portraying Sol Rogers, a cavalry scout, in The Glory Guys and Danny Churchill, the romantic lead, in the musical film When the Boys Meet the Girls.

Presnell went on to star in a few more films during the 1960s, but by the early 1970s that aspect of his career came to a standstill.

From 1970 to 1995 he mostly worked as a musical theatre performer on Broadway, the West End, and in touring productions out of New York. In his early 60s, Presnell saw resurgence in his movie career which lasted until his death.

He played character roles in films like Fargo (1996), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and Flags of Our Fathers (2006).

By the 70s Harve was finished in films but gamely kept his momentum with Keel-like stock and touring leads in such productions as “Camelot,” “The Sound of Music,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” among others.

He even played Rhett Butler in a 1972 musical version of “Gone With the Wind” at London’s Drury Lane Theatre, but the production did not generate much of a stir.

In 1979, Presnell served as a replacement in the Broadway musical “Annie” as Daddy Warbucks and wound up staying employed as the blustery but big-hearted moneybags for nearly 4 years on tour, also reprising the role in the failed 90s sequel “Annie II: Miss Hannigan’s Revenge” (1989), which was later reworked and retitled “Annie Warbucks” (1992).

All tolled, it is estimated that Harve played the tycoon role over 2,000 times.

He struck pure gold as the implacable, ill-fated father-in-law of William H. Macy in the Coen Brothers’ cult film hit Fargo (1996).

This success, in turn, led to meaty roles in Larger Than Life (1996), The Whole Wide World (1996), The Chamber (1996), Face/Off (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), to name a few. Over the course of his career, he displayed a strong presence on TV as well with recurring roles on prime-time (“Lois & Clark”) and daytime (“Ryan’s Hope”).

Presnell may have been born 10-20 years too late to have become a singing film star, but he suddenly had come back in spades to launch a whole new career as a noted character performer.

 

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