Donald Moffat, ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘The Thing’ Actor, Dies at 87

The veteran character actor also played the corrupt president in “Clear and Present Danger”

Last Updated: December 21, 2018 @ 5:36 AM

Donald Moffat, a prolific character actor with over 200 credits who appeared on Broadway, film and television during a career spanning nearly 50 years, died Thursday in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The actor suffered a recent stroke, his daughter told the New York Times.

Born in England in 1930, Moffat studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and began his career at the Old Vic Theatre company in London before briefly quitting acting to move to the United States in 1956 with his American-born first wife.

After several months working odd jobs, Moffat returned to acting, eventually making the jump to a successful career on Broadway. He was nominated for Tony for Best Actor in a Play in 1967 for roles in “The Wild Duck” and “Right You Are If You Think You Are.”

Moffat also began working frequently on television and in film, in addition to his continuing stage presence, which included performing in 80 plays and directing 10 before his retirement from acting in 2005.

In film, he’s best known for portraying Lyndon Johnson in the film version of “The Right Stuff,” the station commander in John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” and the corrupt president in “Clear and Present Danger.” He also appeared in “Regarding Henry,” “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” and “License to Kill,” among many other films.

On television, Moffat’s credits include appearances on “Night Gallery,” “The West Wing,” and “Law and Order: Trial by Jury.”

He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Gwen Arner, four daughters, ten granchildren and three great grandchildren.