Roger Rees, ‘Cheers’ Actor and Broadway Veteran, Dead at 71

Until late May, he had been co-starring with Chita Rivera in the Broadway musical “The Visit”

Last Updated: July 13, 2015 @ 10:36 AM

Roger Rees, a Tony-winning character actor perhaps best known for playing Kirstie Alley’s snooty British suitor on the sitcom “Cheers,” died Friday in New York City. He was 71.

The Welsh-born actor was a veteran of the London and New York stage and had been co-starring with Chita Rivera in the Kander and Ebb musical “The Visit” on Broadway until withdrawing in late May due to illness.

Rees won the Tony for Best Actor in a Play in 1982 for the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby,” a marathon eight-and-a-half-hour, two-part production.

He also won an Olivier Award for the London production in 1980, and later earned an Emmy nomination for a TV miniseries adaptation of the same Charles Dickens story.

In addition to his role on “Cheers,” Rees played such roles as the British ambassador on “The West Wing,” the Sheriff of Rottingham in Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and King Pheron in “Scorpion King.”

He is survived by his husband, Rick Elice, a playwright whose credits include “Jersey Boys” and “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which Rees co-directed on Broadway.