“Twin Peaks” actor Warren Frost, who played Will “Doc” Hayward on the cult ’90s ABC series, has died. He was 91.
Frost passed away at his Middlebury, Vermont, home on Friday following a lengthy illness, TheWrap has learned. The veteran actor was also the father of “Twin Peaks” co-creator, Mark Frost.
Frost was set to reprise his role on Showtime’s highly-anticipated revival, and the network confirmed his death in a statement.
“We’re saddened today to announce the passing of our dear old dad, Warren Frost,” Mark Frost said on behalf of his family. “From the Normandy shores on D-Day to his 50-year career on stage and screen, he remained the same humble guy from Vermont who taught us that a life devoted to telling the right kind of truths can make a real difference in the lives of others. We’re grateful to have shared him with the world for as long as we did.”
Along with his role in the surreal drama based on the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer from 1990-1991, Frost also appeared in “Seinfeld” as the father of George Costanza’s fiancee, Susan — who was ultimately poisoned from licking cheap wedding invitation envelopes.
Frost Sr.’s other notable roles include appearances on “Matlock,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Psycho IV: The Beginning” and “The Stand.”
In the original “Twin Peaks,” which was co-created by David Lynch, Doc Hayward made an instant impact when he discovered Laura Palmer’s body wrapped in plastic.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Virginia, sons Mark and Scott Frost and daughter Lindsay Frost — an actress who starred in “The Ring,” and appeared on “Lost,” “CSI,” and “Boston Legal” — and three grandsons, Lucas Giolito, Casey Giolito and Travis Frost.
Read Frost’s full obit courtesy of Showtime below.
Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts on June 5, 1925, he spent the early years of his childhood in the Bronx before moving to Essex Junction, Vermont, where he lived until graduating from high school in 1942. With World War II well underway, when he turned 17 Frost attempted to enlist in the Marines. Upon learning they weren’t accepting anyone under 18, he crossed the street and joined the Navy.
Frost spent the next three years serving as a First Class Petty Officer aboard the USS Borum, a destroyer escort, in the Caribbean and North Atlantic. On June 6, D-Day, the Borum and its sister ship escorted the Allied invasion to Normandy, serving as mine sweepers at the head of the armada. During the first wave of the invasion, their sister ship hit a mine and sank. The crew of the Borum spent the next 16 days off the Normandy beaches, shelling German positions and patrolling for U-boats until the beachheads and supply lines were secured.
Discharged from the Navy when the war ended, Frost entered Middlebury College in Vermont on the GI Bill, as a 21-year-old freshman English major. On a dare, he auditioned for a school production of “I Remember Mama,” earned a small part and discovered a passion for the arts that changed the course of his life. He met his first and only love, Virginia Calhoun, a 17-year-old freshman from Troy, New York, in one of those early productions, who shared his love of performing. They married in 1949 and graduated in 1950, spending their summers doing summer stock throughout New England.
When they moved to New York City, a family friend arranged a job for Frost in the drapery department at CBS, which led to a career in television on the other side of the camera. This culminated in a three-year stint as the floor director and stage manager for Philco Playhouse, one of the foundational weekly live dramas of television’s Golden Age. Working closely with greats like Sidney Lumet, John Frankenheimer and George Roy Hill led eventually to Frost’s parallel career as a theater director.
In 1958, along with most of the television industry, Frost migrated west to Los Angeles and resumed his acting career, appearing in many early episodic television programs, among them Perry Mason and Dragnet, and in a number of feature films, including The Mating Game, with Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall, and It Started With a Kiss.
Frost earned a Master’s Degree in Theater Arts in 1965 from Occidental College, and in 1967 moved to Minneapolis where he earned his Ph. D and joined the faculty of the theater department at the University of Minnesota. For the next 20 years, he became a fixture in the Twin Cities’ emerging professional theater scene, appearing at the Guthrie Theater and every other Equity house in the area. He directed over 25 local productions during this time, was a founding member of the venerated local company Theater in the Round and served for years as the Artistic Director of the Chimera Theater in St. Paul. In 1973, Frost’s production of his own play, The Unknown Soldier, was honored as the United States’ official entry to the International One-Act Play Festival in Monaco. During this time, he also adapted John Steinbeck’s The Pearl as a stage play for Samuel French and also toured throughout the Midwest performing a one-man show about Mark Twain that he fashioned from Twain’s work.
In 1988, Frost moved back to New York City and appeared as a regular for a year on the CBS daytime drama As The World Turns. The next year, he moved back to Los Angeles for his signature role as Dr. Will Hayward on “Twin Peaks.” During the ’90s, the busiest decade of his long career, he frequently appeared in the other role for which he’s best remembered, Mr. Ross, the harried father of George Costanza’s fiancée Susan, on Seinfeld. He was also featured in nearly 20 episodes as Billy, the troublesome friend of his old real-life friend from early New York years, Andy Griffith, in the hit series Matlock. In addition to starring in many regional theater productions around the country during this time, he also made dozens of featured appearances on TV shows like “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Murphy Brown,” “Life Goes On” and “L.A. Law.”
Frost retired in 2000 and moved back to Middlebury, Vermont. He devoted his last years to woodworking, crafting mural art pieces and making occasional theater appearances in a series of one-man shows he wrote and performed. However, he came out of retirement to appear in this year’s new “Twin Peaks,” premiering on Showtime in May.
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