Jay Garner, a veteran actor of the stage and screen, passed away Jan. 21 at the age of 82. Mr. Garner died in New York City of respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia, according to friend and La Cage castmate John Weiner.
Garner last appeared on Broadway as Horace Vandergelder in 1995's Hello, Dolly! revival, opposite Carol Channing. The actor notably originated roles in Broadway's La Cage aux Folles and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Other Broadway credits include Me and My Girl, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Goodtime Charley, Captain Brassbound's Conversion, Beggar on Horseback, 1776 and Red, White and Maddox. His film and TV work includes Pennies from Heaven, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Three's Company.
"Jay had no family and pretty much laid low for the past ten years. We'd been friends and neighbors since La Cage and I'd been looking in on him and running errands for him the last five years," said John Weiner. "Jay knew funny. Some people have it and some don't. Jay had it. All Jay had to do was make an entrance, and the audience knew right away that before them stood a clown in the tradition of Jackie Gleason or Oliver Hardy. First and foremost though, Jay was a sweet gentle teddy-bear of a man with a kind and generous heart. We're all going to miss him."
Jay Garner, an only child, leaves no immediate family. To honor his memory, Weiner has requested that donations be made to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, one of Mr. Garner's favorite charities.