View Full Version : Michael Jeter, 1952-2003

04-01-2003, 08:29 AM
Michael Jeter, the diminutive actor who delighted children as "Sesame Street's" Mr. Noodle and earned a Tony for the Broadway musical "Grand Hotel" and an Emmy for his role as assistant coach in Burt Reynolds' television series "Evening Shade," has died. He was 50. Jeter was found dead Sunday in his Hollywood home by his life partner, Sean Blue. Guttman said that the actor recently completed his work on Robert Zemeckis' yet-to-be-released film "The Polar Express," starring Tom Hanks, and that filming was suspended Monday because of Jeter's death. Jeter earlier worked with Hanks on the film "The Green Mile," in which he played a hapless, mouse-loving condemned murderer.

Versatile as he was, Jeter never considered himself a dancer. Yet when he danced for director-choreographer Tommy Tune in the 1990 musical "Grand Hotel," he earned not only a Tony but an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award and the Clarence Derwent Prize for his role as the dying bookkeeper off for one final fling in Berlin. Two years later, Jeter earned an Emmy for his work as Herman Stiles, the wimpy assistant to Reynolds, who played a pro football player turned coach.

Born on Aug. 26, 1952, in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., Jeter began medical studies at Memphis State University, but also discovered a love for acting. After graduation, he moved to New York and worked as a law firm secretary until he won his debut role in Milos Forman's film adaptation of the musical "Hair." Among Jeter's stage plays were "Alice," "G.R. Point," "Cloud 9," "Greater Tuna," "Once in a Lifetime," "Zoo Story," "Waiting for Godot" and "The Boys Next Door." Services are pending. Memorial donations can be made to AIDS Project Los Angeles.

04-01-2003, 08:44 AM
The first movie I ever noticed him in was the film version of Hair, which I saw in high school. Heplayed the little guy at the draft induction center who refused to take off his socks, which segued into a rousing version of "White Boys/Black Boys."

Michael Jeter was an out and proud gay actor who was one of the first actors to go public with his HIV+ status and then continued to work even as he struggled with his illness. His most interesting role, I thought, was as the deranged homeless gay man in Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King.

04-01-2003, 09:11 AM
Wow. I saw this elsewhere and thought it was an April Fools joke for some reason. He was terrific in The Fisher King and hilarious in Evening Shade.

What a shame.

04-01-2003, 09:14 AM
One of those faces that showed up a lot of places, but I didn't really recognize him consistently until I saw as Mr. Noodle when I watch Sesame Street with my kids....

Man, do my kids enjoy correcting Mr. Noodle with Elmo ("no, Mr. Noodle, no!! get on the bicycle the OTHER way!!) ...he will be missed.

04-01-2003, 11:14 AM
Awww, that's so sad. He will be missed.

04-01-2003, 11:24 AM
As if things haven't been tough enough for children's television lately...

First Mr. Hooper & Mr. Rogers, then Luna, now Mr. Noodle. I am so sad.

Although it did crack me up that Mr. Noodle was in Jurassic Park III! I kept waiting for Elmo to pop out!

04-01-2003, 11:31 AM
Originally posted by EJsGirl
As if things haven't been tough enough for children's television lately...

First Mr. Hooper & Mr. Rogers, then Luna, now Mr. Noodle. I am so sad.
Yes, very sad indeed.

Oh, well, at least we still have Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle.

:( (Where's the bittersweet smiling through your tears smiley?)

04-01-2003, 11:34 AM
Is Mr Noodle a new Ses. Street thing? I can't place him.

04-01-2003, 11:39 AM
Goodbye Mr. Noodle :(. He was the best part of Sesame Street.

04-01-2003, 12:05 PM
Let's not forget Waterworld.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Fisher King!

Funny, funny man. I'm sorry to see him go.

04-01-2003, 12:54 PM
I, too, have never heard of Mr. Noodle. Who is this Noodle?

04-01-2003, 01:45 PM
Mr. Noodle is a character on Elmo's World, a very popular segment on Sesame Street.

Elmo now has his own feature-length films, videos, DVds, etc, and Mr. Noodle figures prominently in every episode of the show.

Kids love him.

04-01-2003, 02:05 PM
Also, who was the middle-aged black man on Sesame Street who died recently?

I just know he was Holly Robinson Peete's dad!

04-01-2003, 02:06 PM
He was hysterical in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where he played a bizarre, cigarette smoking cop/DA. Damn. Another good one gone.

04-01-2003, 02:22 PM
Originally posted by EJsGirl
Also, who was the middle-aged black man on Sesame Street who died recently?

I just know he was Holly Robinson Peete's dad!

Just guessing, was it Gordon?

04-01-2003, 02:34 PM
Man. I was just thinking of him the other day, when I was musing on some of the really good actors you don't see enough of. His performance in The Fisher King is one of the great supporting performances in cinema, IMHO.

And Pamela Anderson still breathes . . .

04-01-2003, 03:16 PM
Serious Bummer.

The Fisher King is one of my all-time favorite movies. I wasn't aware that he was HIV+, and hearing that brought back that scene where he's sitting on Jack's lap in the ER and he's talking about how he's watched all his friends die of AIDs. Truly sad.

04-01-2003, 03:32 PM
Originally posted by mouthbreather
Just guessing, was it Gordon? Somebody fill us in here! Did Gordon die too?

04-01-2003, 03:50 PM
Okay. I dug it up. The Gordon who passed on was Matt Robinson, the original Gordon. He left the show in 1971!!! Roscoe Orman, the Gordon #3 and the Gordon most of us know and love is still alive and well as far as I know.

04-01-2003, 04:11 PM
I just checked IMDB about Gordon. There were three Gordons. The first one was Matt Robinson, Holly Robinson Peete's dad. He died in 2002, and played Gordon on Sesame Street from 1969 to ~1972. It's very sad - Matt Robinson suffered from Parkinson's for a long, long time. Here (http://www.toughpigs.com/extramattrobinson.htm) is a picture of Matt Robinson.

There was Hal Miller, who just spent a little bit of time on Sesame Street. I don't remember him, but there's a picture of him here (http://www.westbeth.org/miller/miller.html).

The Gordon that I always knew was played by Roscoe Orman. You can see his picture here (http://www.italianfestival.net/html/performers.html) (at the very bottom). He's still alive.

N.B. The dates of all of these Gordons considerably, depending on the sources.

04-01-2003, 05:42 PM
Yep, Matt Robinson was my Gordon!

04-01-2003, 06:32 PM
Rest in Peace Mr. Jeter. I adored you as Delacroix in "The Green Mile". You brought that character to the screen exactly as I imagined him from the book.

04-01-2003, 06:39 PM
Funny -- I was just watching the end of Taken the other week (in which he appeared) and thinking we don't see enough of Michael Jeter. I had no idea he was on Sesame Street, nor that he had died.


And Matt Robinson was the Gordon I remember from my youth too.

04-01-2003, 07:14 PM
This is very strange, I was just thinking of Michael Jeter last night, and for some reason was under the impression that he had already died earlier this year.

I never saw him on stage, but he was wonderful on TV and film. His scene near the end of The Fisher King, where Jeff Bridges ignores him as security is dragging him away was one of the most heartbreaking scenes I can think of. This is truly sad news.

04-01-2003, 07:31 PM
Well, actually, he wasn't Mr. Noodle. If I recall correctly, he was Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle.

Sad news.

04-05-2003, 08:28 AM
Michael Jeter was in TAKEN? I obviously was not watching that closely.


"I'll just lie here in a pile of horse sh*t...How Gandhiesque of you."

Bumping this back up to the front in honor of him!

04-05-2003, 09:25 AM
I didn't see this until just now.

Great, great talent. He will be missed.

Loved him as Delacroix. Heck, I even enjoyed his work in Tango & Cash

04-05-2003, 09:40 AM
Originally posted by FriarTed
Michael Jeter was in TAKEN? I obviously was not watching that closely. He played the talk radio show host; he only appeared on screen towards the end of the last episode, although we heard his voice before that.

04-05-2003, 10:32 AM
The man had a serious talent for taking the absurd and making it believable. Now that's hard to do. Yet, he did it over and over, taking us just beyond the edge.

His (probably cultivated for effect) looks always made me happy. I don't know why.

Though I know there are many killers out there (cancer, drunk driving, etc...), it makes me sad when AIDS takes someone who should've been in the prime of their life. The other killers make me sad, too. (BTW, I still miss Freddy Mercury.)

Take it easy, Mr. Noodle. I'm rerenting Fisher King tonight, gonna watch it with my friends...

04-05-2003, 10:33 AM
I was sad to learn of his passing. I have enjoyed his work and was happy when he started playing "Mr. Noodle's Brother, Mr. Noodle" (which is how they handled the actor switch for the tykes. Mr. Noodle had previously been played by Bill Irwin)

Fisher King came to mind first, then Green Mile, and even Evening Shade. I've seen Hair but not recently enough to remember much about it. I'll have to watch it again.

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