Tribute to Charles Siebert
Statement from Craig A. Miller, former Artistic Director
A little over a decade ago I was introduced to Charles Siebert when Michael Fontaine reached out to him and inquired as to his availability for the role of Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Charlie was known to almost everyone in the North Bay theatre community, but not yet to me, still in my first year as Artistic Director. Charlie had a passion for the play, and it became known quickly that he had played brother Gooper in the 1974 revival of the play, which was revised by Tennessee Williams himself. Charlie won us over instantly, played that role for us to sold-out GK Hardt Theater audiences, and so began a friendship and collaboration that would constitute some of the greatest portrayals on the 6th Street stages from 2012-2018; we looked for opportunities to work together whenever we could.
Charlie was not only a leading man on our stages, playing the epic American theatre tragic heroes like Big Daddy, Mark Rothko (RED), and Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman), but also a terrific character actor who brought unexpected sensitivity and real, truthful, emotional life to the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge in our 2015 & 2016 productions of the timeless holiday classic. I remember Charlie saying of his love for the character to Scrooge; of the play and story: “This story is only second in my mind to the original Christmas story in its power to transform and bring people together in harmony and selflessness.” I think those were the only kinds of stories that Charlie was interested in spending his time and talents on, the big ones that challenge us, call us to action, change us. In our work together over the years, he did all that and more.
Charlie was my friend. He was an enormous talent who I was so lucky to collaborate with, but even more valuable to me, he was a mentor. Anyone who had the honor and pleasure of sharing the stage with him knows that simply watching him work was a Masterclass in itself: pure heart, fiery passion, terrifying truth, and fearlessness – all on display, every moment he was out there. I got to see it a lot over the years as we collaborated, and I will be forever grateful to him for his many beautiful gifts: the ones he knew he was giving, and especially the ones I got without him knowing.
Charlie was never one to over-compliment, or gush, or flatter. He was serious about his craft; he worked hard, and he expected everyone around him to do the same. He lifted us all to a new level of theatricality and magic. As an actor, he didn’t want the praise – he wanted the damn notes.
On closing night of Death of a Salesman, which was our last collaboration together in 2018, Charlie Siebert walked up to me, wrapped his arms around me in a big bear hug, and then handed me an envelope. I waited until the theatre was empty and opened the card. He wrote simply, “We made a good show, friend.”
We certainly did, friend. And I will carry you forward with me in my heart into every rehearsal room for the rest of my days, so we can keep making good shows!
With great love and respect,
– Craig A. Miller
A short biography of Charles Siebert
Charles, or Charlie as he liked to be called, had a wonderfully successful career as an actor going back to the 1960’s. He is probably best known for his role as Dr. Stanley Riverside II on the television series Trapper John, M.D., a role he portrayed from 1979 to 1986. Later turning to directing for episodic television for such shows as Xena: Warrior Princess, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
Siebert studied acting at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He began his career appearing in regional theatre productions throughout the United States during the 1960s with such prestigious companies as Shakespeare in the Park in New York City, the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut, the Guthrie Theater, the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and Baltimore‘s Center Stage. He spent seven summers at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and is a charter member of the American Conservatory Theater.
He made his Broadway debut in 1967 in Bertolt Brecht‘s Life of Galileo followed by the role of Michael Leon in Murray Schisgal‘s Jimmy Shine with Dustin Hoffman in the title role. Subsequent Broadway appearances included Neil Simon‘s The Gingerbread Lady, with Maureen Stapleton, David Storey‘s The Changing Room, David Rabe‘s Sticks and Bones, and the 1974 revival of Tennessee Williams‘ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (wherein the playwright helped to make revisions) starring Elizabeth Ashley, Fred Gwynne, and Keir Dullea. Notable Off-Broadway appearances include Colette starring Zoe Caldwell.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1976 Siebert made his first feature film appearance in the horror cult classic Blue Sunshine. He then began appearing as a guest artist on numerous television programs. Film roles throughout the mid to late 1970s included …And Justice for All with Al Pacino, Michael Crichton‘s Coma, All Night Long with Barbra Streisand and Gene Hackman, and White Water Summer with Sean Astin and Kevin Bacon. Charlie also appeared on many TV series including All in the Family, Perry Mason, a Murder She Wrote, and The Love Boat.
In 1979 Siebert was cast in his most important role to date, Dr. Stanley Riverside II, on Trapper John, M.D. where he also began his directing career.
His directing career, which began with seven episodes of Trapper John, M.D., eventually resulted in numerous episodes of Xena, Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Silk Stalkings, Renegade, Pacific Blue, and Vanishing Son, as well as episodes of Knots Landing, The Pretender, Lifestories, Palace Guard and Jack’s Place.