Friends star and theater veteran Paxton Whitehead dies at 85: English actor and 1990s sitcom legend dies in hospital
Friends star Paxton Whitehead has died aged 85.
The English actor, who was a longtime Broadway actor and regular guest star on a series of 1990s sitcoms, died Friday in a hospital in Arlington, Virginia.
His son, Charles Whitehead, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.
Whitehead will be known to many for playing Mr. Waltham, Rachel Greens [Jennifer Aniston] boss at Bloomingdale’s during season four of the hit series Friends.
The actor also performed on popular shows, Frasier, Caroline in the City, Ellen, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Drew Carey Show and Mad About You.
Sad news: Friends star and theater veteran Paxton Whitehead has passed away at the age of 85 (pictured in 2012)
Fan Favorite: Whitehead will be known to many for playing Mr. Waltham, Rachel Greens [Jennifer Aniston] boss at Bloomingdale’s during season four of the hit series Friends (pictured with Aniston and Tate Donovan on the show)
Hailing from East Malling and Larkfield in Kent, Whitehead starred in several Broadway productions and earned a Tony nomination for his role as Pellinore in a 1980 revival of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot opposite Richard Burton.
The thespian appeared on Broadway 16 more times from 1962-2018, including My Fair Lady with Richard Chamberlain, Lettice and Lovage, Noises Off, and The Importance of Being Earnest.
He also had a famous role as Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood in 1978 and 1979, which ran for 236 performances at the Helen Hayes Theater.
He co-starred with Glenn Close in the production, which was nominated for four Tonys Awards.
Whitehead didn’t make his screen debut until 1986 when he appeared in Back To School as Dr. Philip Barbay, dean of the business school at Grand Lakes University and the boyfriend of literature professor Diane Turner (played by Sally Kellerman).
He appeared in the NBC comedy Made About You from 1992 to 1999 as uptight neighbor Hal Conway.
In a 2017 interview, Whitehead said his most farcical roles are the ones he enjoys most.
He said, ‘Everyone says [they] its hard to do but it depends. You either have it or you don’t.
“I think it’s hard for some people. I didn’t find it that difficult. Don’t know. I just seemed to respond to it.
“When I was younger, I tried really hard to get the vocals right. If I felt the rhythm and the sound of the character – if I got that right, and usually the difference is very subtle – then I think everything else seemed to follow, the movement and so on.’
Whitehead is survived by his son Charles and daughter Alex.