American character actor Charles Kimbrough (b. St. Paul, MN, May 23, 1936) is best known for playing the strait-laced news anchor Jim Dial on Candice Bergen’s television series Murphy Brown (1988–98). The role earned him a nomination for an Emmy® Award in 1990 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Kimbrough has extensive stage as well as television and film experience; in 1971, he was nominated for a Tony® for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Stephen Sondheim’s Company, and in 1984 he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Sunday in the Park with George).
Nephew of author Emily Kimbrough (collaborator with Cornelia Otis Skinner on their autobiographical travelogue Our Hearts Were Young and Gay), Kimbrough’s interest in theater as a youth was partly stimulated by his aunt’s writings. He attended Indiana University, graduating in 1958, and Yale University School of Drama before appearing off-Broadway in 1961 in All for Love. From 1966, Kimbrough and his first wife Mary Jane were principals at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, playing standards like Design for Living, Hedda Gabler, The Importance of Being Earnest, and A Doll’s House.
Kimbrough came to New York in 1969, and after a Broadway debut in a John Guare play that fizzled, he snagged the part of Harry in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company (1970), which won him a Tony® nomination. Company‘s cast album was his recording debut. Leaving Milwaukee for good in 1972, he spent the rest of the decade playing character roles in various theatres in Washington, New Haven, and New York, and appearing in several films (The Front 1976, The Seduction of Joe Tynan 1979). He did not do another musical until his award-nominated portrayal of Jules and Bob Greenberg in Sunday in the Park With George in 1984.
Charles Kimbrough became a darling of national television audiences in 1988 in his weekly appearances on Murphy Brown. After its ten-year run, Kimbrough took on new projects, notably voicing for animated films for younger audiences: his is the voice of Victor, the senior gargoyle in the Disney cartoon feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) and its sequel (2002), and of Mort Chalk in Recess: School’s Out (2001).
Kimbrough is married to actress Beth Howland, who plays Vera on Alice.
He frequently guest stars on television, and recently appeared in the Encores! staging of No, No Nanette and the New York Philharmonic’s concert staging of My Fair Lady. Charles Kimbrough returned to Broadway in April 2009 in Samson Raphaelson’s Accent On Youth, playing the role of Flogdell, the distinguished butler employed by playwright Stephen Gaye, played by David Hyde Pierce.
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