George S. Irving passed away from heart failure on December 26th, according to his daughter Katherine Irving. He was 94. The Tony Award winner was best known for his roles in Broadway's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Oklahoma!
Irving also lent his voice talent in the 1974 motion-animated ABC special The Year Without a Santa Claus as the infamous Heat Miser. The movie is based on the 1956 book by Phyllis McGinley.
The Springfield, Massachusetts native was the son of Russian immigrants and attended Classical Highschool in Springfield. In 1940, he received a scholarship to Leland Powers School in Boston. It was there that he studied drama. Shortly after, in 1942, Irving picked up a gig at the St. Louis Muny Opera. His acceptance to replace an actor in the play Showboat is how he stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime. One of the original actors lost his voice, and Irving was asked to replace him. He was later approached by lyricist Oscar Hammerstein III to join the chorus of Oklahoma!
The actor would go on to play Madame Lucy opposite the late Debbie Reynolds in the 1974 musical Irene. This landed him his first Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He also received a Tony nomination for his role as Sir John in the 1987 Broadway musical Me and My Girl. Irving appeared in a plethora of theatre productions throughout his career including Two's Company, Can-Can, and 2005's A Wonderful Life.
Along with theatre, Irving is credited for a number of film and TV appearances, such as guest starring in the 1970s TV series All in the Family as Russ Dekuyper. He narrated the animated series Underdog and made his commercial debut during the 1970s White Owl Cigars campaign.
Irving's career spans over 60 years, and, thus, he will always be known as one of Broadway's most memorable legends.