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Barnard Hughes

Hughes as Grandpa in A Hobo's Christmas, 1987
Born Bernard Aloysius Kiernan Hughes
July 16, 1915(1915-07-16)
Bedford Hills, New York,
United States
Died July 11, 2006 (aged 90)
New York City, New York
United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1939–2000
Spouse(s) Helen Stenborg (1950-2006; his death)

Bernard Aloysius Kiernan “Barnard” Hughes (July 16, 1915 – July 11, 2006) was an American actor of theater and film. Hughes became famous for a variety of roles; his most notable roles came after middle age, and he was often cast as a dithering authority figure or grandfatherly elder.


Personal life

Hughes was born in Bedford Hills, New York, the son of Irish immigrants Madge (née Kiernan) and Owen Hughes.[1][2] He attended La Salle Academy and Manhattan College in New York City. Hughes was married to actress Helen Stenborg. They married on April 19, 1950, and remained married until his death. He was five days shy of his ninety-first birthday. They had two children, Tony Award-winning theatre director son, Doug and daughter, Laura.


Hughes changed the "e" in his first name to an "a" to help his acting career on the advice of a numerologist. Through high school and college, Hughes worked a series of odd jobs, including a stint as a dockworker and as a salesman at Macy's. He auditioned for the Shakespeare Fellowship Repertory company in New York City on the advice of a friend, and ended up joining the company for two years.

Hughes played more than 400 theatre roles, including the one for which he was perhaps most famous, in Hugh Leonard's Da. He won Broadway's 1978 Tony Award as Best Actor for his portrayal of the title role; he recreated the role for film in 1988 - Da.

On screen, he appeared in the film transcription of Hamlet (1964), Midnight Cowboy (1969) (the only X-rated film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture), and also appeared in such films as The Hospital (1971), Oh, God! (1977), First Monday in October (1981), Tron (1982), The Lost Boys (1987), Da (1988) - the screen reprise of his most successful stage-role, and Doc Hollywood (1991). He also played the old man who gave a ride to Felix and Oscar on Odd Couple 2 (1998) and was featured in The Fantasticks (2000).

Hughes appeared on TV in such series as Naked City, The Secret Storm, Blossom and Homicide: Life on the Street. In 1973, he had a notable recurring role on All in the Family as a Roman Catholic priest, Father John Majeski, doing battle with Archie Bunker, and won an Emmy for his portrayal of a senile judge on Lou Grant. He was the central character in three sitcoms: Doc, which ran on CBS from 1975-77, where he played a physician, Mr. Merlin, in which he played Merlin, a magician mentoring a 20th-century teenager, and The Cavanaughs, co-starring Christine Ebersole, where he played the family patriarch (Art Carney, playing his brother, and Glynis Johns made guest appearances). Hughes sang Danny Boy on one episode. He made a memorable appearance as The King (with Jim Dale as The Duke) in the PBS mini-series Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Hughes also made a number of recurring appearances on daytime dramas including Guiding Light and As The World Turns as well as a brief appearance in an early episode of Dark Shadows. He also did voice-overs for TV commercials advertising Kix cereal.

Stage productions


  1. ^ "Barnard Hughes Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  2. ^ "Barnard Hughes Dies at 90". Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 

External links



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