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Roberto Gari Dies at 87



Actor and Artist Roberto Gari Dies at 87

By Robert Simonson
04 Feb 2008

Roberto Gari, an actor with several Broadway credits who also had a career as an artist, died Jan. 22 in Manhattan of a heart attack. He was 87.

Mr. Gari, born in Brooklyn, was on the stage by the age of four, appearing in vaudeville under the name of Jackie Hayes. He danced with Vera-Ellen in the 1944 Broadway production of A Connecticut Yankee and later landed the lead role in the same production. His other Broadway credits included Sadie Thompson and Nellie Bly. The latter was produced by Eddie Cantor, his father-in-law.

In between his stage debut and Broadway debut, Mr. Gari attended the Art Students League, studying under Will Barnett and Ethel Schwabacher. His work was vaguely impressionistic and often took popular figures and subjects as its subject. His most famous work was the well-known painting of Judy Garland that was on display in the lobby of New York's Palace Theatre for decades. It now rests in the permanent collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

In recent years, Mr. Gari, possessed of a long, angular face, prominent nose and droopy white moustache, received much work in prominent print ads, and played Amy Sedaris' dead, rigor mortis-stricken father Guy Blank on Comedy Central's "Strangers With Candy." Mr. Gari's marriage to Janet Cantor ended in divorce. In addition to his son Brian, of Manhattan, Mr. Gari is survived by his daughter Amanda Abel of Sherman Oaks, CA, and granddaughter Allison Abel of Sherman Oaks.

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