Birthday: July 27, 1949
Nationality: American, Canadian
Died At Age: 61
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Maury Alan Chaykin
Born Country: United States
Born in: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males
father: Irving J. Chaykin
mother: Clarice Chaykin
siblings: Dan Chaykin, Debra Chaykin Brandwein
Died on: July 27, 2010
place of death: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cause of Death: Cardiovascular Disease
Notable Alumni: University At Buffalo
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: University at Buffalo
awards: 1997 · The Sweet Hereafter - National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1994 · Whale Music - Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
2006; 1998 · At the Hotel; La Femme Nikita - Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role Dramatic Series
2010 · Less Than Kind - Canadian Comedy Award for Television / Best Performance by an Ensemble - Television
Maury Chaykin was an American-Canadian character actor who is best known for his portrayal of Rex Stout's legendary detective Nero Wolfe in A&E's TV movie 'The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery' and the television series 'A Nero Wolfe Mystery'. Another of his popular roles was Sam Blecher in the Canadian comedy-drama series 'Less Than Kind'. Chaykin, who became a Canadian citizen after settling in Toronto, had dual citizenship of America and Canada and appeared in numerous films and TV shows in both countries throughout his illustrious 35-year-long career. He had a penchant for portraying blustery, disturbing characters with comic undertones and earned critical acclaim for his roles in films such as 'WarGames', 'Dances with Wolves', 'My Cousin Vinny', 'Whale Music', 'Owning Mahowny', and 'It's a Boy Girl Thing'. His notable television credits included 'Seeing Things', 'La Femme Nikita', 'Emily of New Moon', 'Stargate SG-1', 'Entourage', and 'At the Hotel'. He passed away on his 61st birthday after suffering from heart valve infection.
Childhood & Early Life
Maury Alan Chaykin was born on July 27, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York, United States to an American father Irving J. Chaykin and Canadian mother Clarice (née Bloomfield). His father taught accountancy at City College of New York and his mother, the sister of veteran Canadian director, producer, writer and actor George Bloomfield, studied nursing at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.
He became interested in acting while attending James Madison High School and later founded the acting troupe Swamp Fox while studying drama at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. His avant-garde troupe gained recognition at Toronto’s 1970 Festival of Underground Theatre and was later voted most original group at the Yale Drama Festival.
Swamp Fox was disbanded soon after his graduation, following which he became a member of the American Contemporary Theatre in North Buffalo, working alongside prominent theatre personalities like playwright Samuel Beckett. After struggling to break into the New York theatre scene for a few years, he permanently relocated to Toronto, Ontario, where he had previously made valuable connections.
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Maury Chaykin began his career acting in experimental theater in Toronto, and appeared in plays such as John Palmer's 'Me?' and Hrant Alianak's 'Tony's Woman' in 1974. The next year, he made his feature film debut reprising his role in the film version of 'Me'.
He went on to work both in the Toronto and New York theatre scenes throughout the late 1970s, and made his television debut in an episode of the CBC drama 'King of Kensington' in 1978. In the following years, he appeared in small roles in several films and television shows, including his uncle's TV movie 'Riel' (1979) and films 'Nothing Personal' (1980) and 'Double Negative' (1980).
Thanks to his dual-citizenship, he acted in both Canada and America, in films such as 'The Kidnapping of the President', 'Death Hunt', and 'WarGames', the last of which had one of his earliest notable roles. Throughout the 1980s, he continued to appear on television shows like 'Seeing Things', 'ABC Weekend Special', and 'American Playhouse', as well as a number of telefilms.
In 1985, he became widely known in Canada for portraying the breakthrough role of Harold Chamberlain Banks on the docudrama 'Canada's Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal C. Banks', which earned him a 'Nellie Award'. He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Major Fambrough in the 1990 epic Western film 'Dances with Wolves' and prosecution witness Sam Tipton in the 1992 comedy film 'My Cousin Vinny'.
His first lead starring role in a feature film came in 1994, when he played burned-out rock star Desmond Howl, modeled on Brian Wilson, in the comedy-drama film 'Whale Music'. His portrayal of the reclusive musician trying to create a symphony for whales in the film garnered him the 'Best Actor' honor at the '15th Genie Awards' that year.
In 1995, he appeared in 'Unstrung Heroes', the directorial debut of American actress Diane Keaton, with whom he acted in four movies: 'Mrs. Soffel' (1984), 'Northern Lights' (1997), 'Plan B' (2001) and 'Crossed Over' (2002). On television, he shared the 'Best Acting by an Ensemble' honor with his cast-mates on 'The Sweet Hereafter' in 1997 and won a 'Gemini Award' in 1998 for his guest role on 'La Femme Nikita'.
Arguably his best role was playing legendary detective Nero Wolfe in A&E's 2000 telefilm 'The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery', based on the 1953 Rex Stout novel. The film was so successful that it spawned the weekly series, 'A Nero Wolfe Mystery', which became internationally popular, and later led to his recurring role of Nerus in 'Stargate SG-1'.
He appeared as a bookie opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in the 2003 Canadian film 'Owning Mahowny', and as the father of Kevin Zegers' character in the 2006 romantic-comedy 'It's a Boy Girl Thing'. He received another 'Gemini Award' in 2006 for his guest role in the miniseries 'At the Hotel', and also had a semi-recurring role based on disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein on HBO's 'Entourage' (2005-07).
One of his personal favorite characters was Sam Blecher, "an out-of-control, good-hearted, big-hearted person" who is "full of love but he can't express it", in the Canadian comedy-drama series 'Less Than Kind'. He portrayed the role in the show's first two seasons, until his death, and was posthumously awarded the 'ACTRA Toronto Award for Outstanding Performance - Male' in 2011.
Family & Personal Life
Maury Chaykin met his first wife, Canadian actor and producer Ilana Frank, through his friend, actor and playwright Hrant Alianak, who had cast both of them in the 1974 play 'Tony's Woman'. However, they later divorced in 1993.
His second marriage was to Canadian actress Susannah Hoffmann, best known for her role in the 'Anne of Avonlea' series, with whom he had a daughter named Rose. She also made a guest appearance in an episode of his series 'A Nero Wolfe Mystery' in 2002.
He suffered from several medical problems during his final years and died from complications of a heart valve infection on July 27, 2010, his 61st birthday, at Toronto General Hospital. He was survived by his mother, his brother Dan, his sister Debra Brandwein, his wife and his daughter, but his mother died 22 months later in May 2012.
Maury Chaykin told 'The New York Times' during an interview in 2000 that his rare lead role in 'The Golden Spiders' gave him an odd thrill. Talking about the billboard on Sunset Boulevard with a humongous photograph of his face, he revealed that he drove by it "constantly, back and forth, back and forth".