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Dana Elcar
Born Ibsen Dana Elcar
October 10, 1927(1927-10-10)
Ferndale, Michigan
United States
Died June 6, 2005 (aged 77)
Ventura, California
United States
Domestic partner(s) Thelma Garcia

Dana Elcar (October 10, 1927 – June 6, 2005) was an American television and movie character actor. Although he appeared in about 40 films, his most memorable role was on the 1980s and 1990s television series MacGyver as Peter Thornton, an administrator working for the Phoenix Foundation. Elcar had appeared in the pilot episode of MacGyver as Andy Colson (a completely different character), but was later cast as Peter Thornton, making his first regular appearance in the 11th episode of the first season.


Life and career

Elcar was born as Ibson Dana Elcar in Ferndale, Michigan, the son of Hedwig (née Anderberg) and James Aage Elcar, a carpenter and butcher.[1] Elcar was an alumnus of the University of Michigan where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Elcar was also a student of legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner. He brought this education to bear when in 1986, with fellow character actor William Lucking, he formed the Santa Paula Theater Center. Elcar sat as artistic director for six years.

Elcar had supporting roles in Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff, W.C. Fields and Me, The Sting, 2010, All of Me, The Learning Tree, Herbie the Matchmaker, and Baretta, in which he played Baretta's supervisor, Inspector Shiller. He also had a recurring role in the popular 1970s television series Baa Baa Black Sheep. Another of his recurring roles was as Sheriff Patterson #1 on Dark Shadows. He guest starred as Judge Spencer on BJ and the Bear in 1979, and in two episodes of The A-Team in 1984 and 1985.[2] In 1987 he also guest starred on Matlock.[2] He was often mistaken for his MacGyver stunt/photography double, Don S. Davis,[3] and vice-versa. He also appeared in the hit series Knight Rider in the 1983 episode "Merchants of Death"; as a corrupt sheriff in The Incredible Hulk episode "Escape from Los Santos" in 1978 where Banner is on his way to Phoenix; and as KAOS Agent Kruger in the 2-part Get Smart episode "And Baby Makes Four" (1969).

In 1991, Elcar began to develop glaucoma. This condition was written into the show, MacGyver, beginning with the sixth season episode Blind Faith and continuing through the remainder of that season and the entire seventh season, with Elcar's character developing the disease. The sixth season finale, Hind-Sight, was a clip show using Pete Thornton's upcoming eye surgery as a framing device. After MacGyver ended, he guest starred on Law & Order, The Magic School Bus and ER. In each he played a blind character although The Magic School Bus was animated and it would have thus been unnecessary for the character to be blind. Once blind, Elcar took on the challenge of playing Vladimir in Waiting for Godot complete with white cane. This was his theatrical swan song, and he retired in 1992.


On June 6, 2005, Elcar died at the Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California due to complications from pneumonia. He was 77 years old.

He was survived by his son, Dane Elcar; his three daughters (Nora, Chandra and Marin); a stepdaughter (former soap opera actress and current writer Emily Prager); a sister; a half-sister; and his long-time partner, Thelma Garcia.


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