UPDATE, with reactions Mark Blum, a veteran New York stage actor whose credits also include roles in the film Desperately Seeking Susan and the Netflix TV series You, has died due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 69.
His death was announced by the Off Broadway theater company Playwrights Horizons. SAG-AFTRA confirmed the news.
“He was a wonderful actor and a very good and kind man,” tweeted Rosanna Arquette, his co-star in 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan. Arquette said she was deeply saddened by “this very very hard news…” (Read her tweet and others here.)
Blum’s Broadway credits include Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (2012) and Neil Simon’s Lost In Yonkers (1991), and his most recent and final Broadway appearance in Richard Greenberg’s The Assembled Parties (2013). The latter role came 36 years after his Broadway debut in Arnold Wesker’s The Merchant. Other Broadway credits include My Thing of Love (1995), A Thousand Clowns (2001), The Graduate (2002), and Twelve Angry Man (2004).
A staple of the Off Broadway scene since the mid-1970s, Blum won an Obie Award for his performance in 1989’s Gus and Al. He most recently starred in Fern Hill (2019), and in 2000 starred in the original Off Broadway production of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery. Other Off Broadway credits include Amy and the Orphans, Rancho Viejo, The Model Apartment, The Good Mother, Mourning Becomes Electra, Buffalo Gal, The Music Teacher, Table Settings, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or “Schmucks,” Laureen’s Whereabouts, Little Footsteps, It’s Only a Play, Messiah, Key Exchange, Table Settings and Say Goodnight Gracie, among others.
“With love and heavy hearts, Playwrights Horizons pays tribute to Mark Blum, a dear longtime friend and a consummate artist who passed this week. Thank you, Mark, for all you brought to our theater, and to theaters and audiences across the world. We will miss you,” the theater company Playwrights Horizons said in a tweet. (See it below.)
In addition to Desperately Seeking Susan, in which he costarred with Madonna and Arquette, Blum also appeared in, among other films, Crocodile Dundee and Shattered Glass, and he had roles on many television series including Capital News, NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, Law & Order, Mozart in the Jungle and, more recently, Succession, Elementary, The Good Fight, You and Billions.
A noted acting teacher, Blum was the Director of the Uta Hagen Institute’s Hagen Core Training at HB Studio in New York. “Every student is different,” he wrote in his teaching statement for the program. “My job is to be a diagnostician, identifying the particular issues holding an actor back from reaching his or her potential, then nudging them towards finding, and owning, the keys to their own freedom.” Blum held an MFA in Acting, University of Minnesota, and studied at HB Studio and with Andre Gregory.
Blum was a Screen Actors Guild and SAG-AFTRA board member, serving from 2007–2013.
He is survived by his wife, Janet Zarish.