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'Owen Marshall' Actor Arthur Hill


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'Owen Marshall' Actor Arthur Hill

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Arthur Hill

LOS ANGELES, California -- Veteran character actor Arthur Hill, whose dozens of television and movie appearances included the title role in the series, "Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law," died Sunday, October 22 at a Pacific Palisades care facility after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, his friend Walter Seltzer said. He was 84.

Hill, who hadn't worked in the motion picture or television business since 1990, was a well-known face on TV, appearing on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "The Defenders," "Ben Casey," "The Untouchables," "The Nurses," "The FBI," "Mission Impossible," "The Fugitive" and "Marcus Welby, M.D."

He was the star of "Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law" from 1971 to 1974. Hill also appeared in the films "Harper," "The Ugly American," "The Andromeda Strain" and "A Bridge Too Far."

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Arthur Hill (standing) with Uta Hagen and George Grizzard in a

scene from Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

Born August 1, 1922, in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada, Hill served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and attended the University of British Columbia, where he studied law but was lured to the stage. He moved to Great Britain in 1948 where he performed in a variety of stage productions, then he moved to New York 10 years later and established himself on Broadway.

Hill made his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Gordon in "The Matchmaker," then went on to star in such stage hits as "Look Homeward Angel." The actor won Tony and New York Drama Critics awards for his role as George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in 1962.

Hill is survived by his second wife, Anne-Sophie Taraba; son, Douglas, of Los Angeles; stepdaughter, Daryn Sherman, of Washington; a step-granddaughter and two sisters, Pat and Eunice, both of Winnipeg, Canada. There will are no services planned.

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'Virginia Woolf' Actor Arthur Hill

by Douglas Martin

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Arthur Hill

PACIFIC PALISADES, California -- Actor Arthur Hill, who brought engrossing complexity and understated intelligence to hundreds of roles on stage, screen and television and won a Tony Award for his performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," died on Sunday, October 22 in Pacific Palisades, California from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 84.

Hill was a well-known face on television for many years. On the television series, "Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law," which ran from 1971 to 1974, he played the title role, a lawyer whose main interest was helping people. He stopped acting after his first wife of 56 years, Peggy Hassard, died from Alzheimer's disease in 1998.

His other television work included "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "The Defenders," "Ben Casey," "The Untouchables," "The F.B.I.," "Mission: Impossible," "The Fugitive" and "Marcus Welby, M.D." His many films included "Harper," "A Bridge Too Far," "The Ugly American" and "The Andromeda Strain."

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Arthur Hill and Lee Majors in 'Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law'

Arthur Edward Spence Hill was born in Melfort, Saskatchewan, on the Canadian prairie. His boyhood ambition was to be a lawyer like his father, who knew each of the town's 2,000 residents and was eager to help them with their problems. Writers have noted that in many ways Arthur Hill's "Owen Marshall" character resembled the actor's father.

Hill's pre-law studies at the University of British Columbia were interrupted when he was drafted into the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he was a mechanic. After World War II he returned to the university, earned his bachelor's degree and began taking courses for a law degree.

Needing money, Hill successfully auditioned for an acting job at a local radio station. He also joined a campus theatrical group. He toured Canada with the group before moving to London, where he almost immediately found a radio job with the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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Arthur Hill

After four months, Hill moved on to television and theater performances. He appeared in several West End productions and arrived on Broadway in 1955 in Thornton Wilder's play "The Matchmaker," which was successful on both sides of the Atlantic. The New York Herald Tribune's Walter Kerr called Hill an "enormously gifted player."

Hill continued to work on Broadway in the 1950's. In addition to his performance in 'Virginia Woolf,' Hill's Broadway career included roles in the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas, "All the Way Home" and "Look Homeward, Angel."

In "Look Homeward, Angel," the stage adaptation of Thomas Wolfe's novel, he played Ben Gant, the dying older brother of the drama's principal character. Richard Watts Jr. in The New York Post lauded his "infinitely understanding and touching portrayal."

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Arthur Hill in 1971

Hill also moved into television, appearing on "The U.S. Steel Hour," "Hallmark Hall of Fame," "Studio One" and other shows that emphasized serious drama. His American screen debut was in "The Young Doctors" in 1961.

Hill was in Paris working on the movie, "In the Cool of the Day," in which he starred as the overprotective husband of a woman played by Jane Fonda, when he received the voluminous script of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" He later recalled that he felt intimidated by it.

By the time he reached New York, the play was already in rehearsal, and he told interviewers that he was so worried about catching up, he considered dropping out of the project. Hill stayed the course, partly because thoughtful characters intrigued him, he said in an interview with The New York Times.

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Melinda Dillon and Arthur Hill in the 1962

original Broadway production of Edward

Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf'

He played George, a failing middle-aged college professor locked in repetitive razor-sharp emotional confrontations with his acid-tongued wife, Martha, played by Uta Hagen. He won a Tony Award for Best Actor for the 1962-63 season and the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Actor.

The Times Howard Taubman praised Hill's "superbly modulated performance built on restraint as a foil to Miss Hagen's explosiveness." Hill took the acclaim he won for 'Virginia Woolf' in stride. In a 1962 interview with The New York World-Telegram and Sun he said, "I'm a fellow in the business. I've been in it all my life. It's nice it happened. But I wouldn't have died if it hadn't."

Another of Hill's Broadway roles was in 1967 in Eugene O'Neill's "More Stately Mansions." Working opposite Ingrid Bergman, he drew mixed reviews for his role as a man torn between a possessive wife and a possessive mother.

Hill is survived by his second wife, Anne-Sophie Taraba; son, Douglas, of Los Angeles; stepdaughter, Daryn Sherman, of Washington; a step-granddaughter and two sisters, Pat and Eunice, both of Winnipeg, Canada. There will are no services planned.

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