David Dukes dies: Chameleon of An Actor, was 55

David Dukes, a veteran television, film and stage actor who won critical acclaim for his performance as a homosexual persecuted by the Nazis in the Broadway production of ”Bent,” was an extraordinary talent that graced both the small and big screens. His untimely death at 55 due to a heart attack left behind a void in the entertainment industry. Residing in Los Angeles with his wife, Carol Muske-Dukes, David collapsed during an off-day from filming ”Rose Red,” Stephen King’s chilling miniseries set in a haunted Seattle mansion. Born in San Francisco in 1945, David honed his acting skills at the American Conservatory Theater before embarking on a remarkable career spanning three decades.

Throughout those years, David appeared in numerous films and television shows that showcased his versatile range as an actor. From beloved sitcoms like “All In The Family” to gripping dramas such as “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” he effortlessly captivated audiences with every role he undertook. In 1990, his exceptional portrayal earned him an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in HBO’s miniseries “The Josephine Baker Story.” This recognition only solidified what fans already knew – David possessed immense talent beyond measure.In more recent times, viewers had the pleasure of witnessing David’s brilliance on their screens once again when he portrayed Mr. McPhee on popular series like “Dawson’s Creek.” It was evident that despite being part of Hollywood

Mr. Dukes’s film credits include the Oscar-winning ”Gods and Monsters” (1998) and ”The First Deadly Sin” (1981), in which he played an ice-pick wielding serial killer and Frank Sinatra a police lieutenant. With his exceptional talent, Mr. Dukes delivered captivating performances that left audiences on the edge of their seats. However, it was on the stage where he truly shone brightest, receiving critical acclaim for his portrayal of complex characters. In 1979, his depiction of a homosexual prisoner en route to a Nazi concentration camp in Martin Sherman’s ”Bent,” garnered high praise from Walter Kerr in The New York Times. Kerr commended Mr. Dukes’s acting as “superbly varied, sensitive to nuance, controlled,” showcasing his ability to bring depth and authenticity to every role he undertook.Not only did Mr. Dukes excel at portraying challenging characters but also proved himself as a dependable actor who could step into leading roles at short notice. In 1980, when Jean LeClerc fell ill during the Broadway show “Dracula,” it was Mr. Dukes who fearlessly took up the mantle without hesitation or compromise in quality.

His dedication ensured that audiences continued to experience an unforgettable performance despite unforeseen circumstances.In another remarkable instance of his versatility and professionalism, Mr.Dukes stepped into the lead role of “Frankenstein” midway through its previews in 1981 when no one expected such change would occur so late.

In an interview with The Times, Mr. Dukes revealed the roller coaster of emotions he experienced during his debut as Dr. Frankenstein in the preview of the play. With just five days of rehearsals under his belt, he admitted feeling a sense of panic that gripped him tightly before facing the audience for the very first time. As he stepped onto that stage, Mr. Dukes couldn’t help but keep his hands buried deep within his pockets, desperately trying to hide any visible signs of trembling knees. However, despite these nerves and uncertainties swirling inside him, he described this exhilarating experience as nothing short of “wonderful” and “rollicking fun.”Not one to shy away from challenging roles, Mr. Dukes also found himself stepping into John Lithgow’s shoes to assume the role of a French diplomat in David Henry Hwang’s critically acclaimed drama “M. Butterfly.” It was undoubtedly a daunting task to take over from such an established actor; however, Mr. Dukes embraced this opportunity with open arms and brought his own unique interpretation and flair to breathe life into this character.Continuing on this path towards artistic exploration and versatility, 1994 saw Mr.Dukes gracing the stage once again—this time in Arthur Miller’s poignant masterpiece titled “Broken Glass.” His presence injected depth into Miller’s powerful narrative while skillfully portraying complex emotions woven through each line.Mr.Dukes’ journey is one filled with dedication and fearlessness as he seamlessly transitions between different characters.

In addition to his beloved wife, a beacon of love and strength who has been by his side through thick and thin, he is survived by a daughter named Annie, residing in the radiant city of Los Angeles. Annie, an extraordinary soul with boundless creativity and compassion, shares her father’s zest for life and vibrant spirit. With each passing day, she illuminates the world around her with her infectious laughter and unwavering determination. And nestled amidst the hills of San Francisco stands his son Shawn from a previous marriage – a reflection of resilience wrapped in gentle humility. Shawn’s unwavering dedication to his passions serves as an inspiration to all who cross paths with him; whether it be through captivating melodies resonating from his guitar or acts of selflessness that brighten even the darkest corners.

Death is an inevitable aspect of the human experience, a profound moment that can leave an indelible mark on our souls. In the case of Dukes, it was a heart-wrenching tragedy that befell him while he was immersed in his craft, shooting for the enthralling Stephen King miniseries Rose Red. The irony lies in the fact that Dukes himself became part of this enigmatic narrative, forever etching his name into its haunting tale. On that fateful day, October 9th, 2000, Spanaway witnessed both mourning and disbelief as a vibrant life was abruptly extinguished by a stealthy heart attack. It serves as a poignant reminder that even amidst bustling film sets and electrifying performances, mortality waits patiently to remind us of our ephemeral existence.

As tributes poured in from across the globe for this talented actor whose light had been snuffed out too soon, preparations were underway to lay him to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery—a serene sanctuary nestled within Glendale’s tranquil embrace. Therein lies Dukes’ final resting place; his memory forever intertwined with those who visit this hallowed ground seeking solace or inspiration from artists who have transcended earthly boundaries through their exceptional talent and passion for their craft.

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