Over the course of its original 10-season run, "Murphy Brown" was consistently considered one of the best sitcoms on television and made a star out of its leading lady Candice Bergen. One of its key ingredients for success was the character of Jim Dial, the lead news anchor for "FYI," played by Charles Kimbrough. With his overly articulated speech and rich baritone, he made what should be the face of trustworthiness and intelligence into a delightful straight-laced buffoon, earning the actor an Emmy nomination in 1990.
Sadly, Charles Kimbrough has passed away at the age of 86. Appearing on stage and screens big and small, the Tony-nominated actor had a robust career going all the way back to the late 1960s that ranged from Shakespeare on Broadway to voicing Victor the gargoyle in Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" to a supporting role in the romantic comedy "The Wedding Planner." He worked consistently on stage and in voiceover work up until 2012 with a Broadway revival of "Harvey," going into a soft retirement that would briefly lapse to appear in the 2018 revival of "Murphy Brown" for three episodes. Of course, Jim Dial will be what he is forever remembered for, appearing in 250 of the 260 total episodes, but the man had a career that any character actor would envy.
Kimbrough On Stage
As is the case with so many actors who are able to find fame and fortune on television, Charles Kimbrough was primarily a stage actor. Most people will remember him for his work on "Murphy Brown," but upon hearing word of his passing, my mind immediately jumped to two shows by Stephen Sondheim. The amount of times I have listened to him croon the melancholically hopeful tune "Sorry-Grateful" from the original Broadway cast recording of "Company" is immeasurable, a performance for which Kimbrough received his sole Tony nomination in 1971. The same goes for watching the filmed Broadway production of "Sunday in the Park with George" (my favorite musical of all time), where he plays the hilariously elitist art critic Jules paired with the great Dana Ivey. In some ways, his performance in "Sunday" is a precursor to what he does in "Murphy Brown" that would delight millions.
Prior to his time on the television show, Kimbrough would appear on Broadway on a regular basis. Rarely a year passed between productions. He was an actor who could maneuver his way between both straight plays and musicals, a rarity for Broadway actors. Now, not every show he did was a hit. He was in a revival of Luigi Pirandello's "The Rules of the Game" that only lasted 12 performances, but that is a rousing success compared to the musical appropriately "One Night Stand" which didn't even make it to opening night, shuttering after just eight previews. But it didn't matter. He could always find the next gig. When you are a genre and form straddling character actor, you can work. His "Murphy Brown" career is a one in a million shot, but Charles Kimbrough's stage career is one every actor should look to for inspiration.
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The post Charles Kimbrough, Emmy-Nominated Actor Who Played Jim Dial In Murphy Brown, Has Died At 86 appeared first on /Film.