Mitchell Ryan, Dark Shadows and Lethal Weapon Star, Dead at 88
Mitchell Ryan, an actor best known for his work on Dark Shadows, Dharma & Greg, and Lethal Weapon, has passed away at the age of 88. The news was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by his stepdaughter, Denise Freed, who revealed that he died of congestive heart failure on Friday, March 4th at his home in Los Angeles. Ryan's career on the stage and screen spanned nearly six decades, including being a lifelong member of the Actors Studio, and a stint as the president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
Ryan was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 11, 1934, and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. After serving in the United States Navy during the Korean War, Ryan turned to acting in the theater, and made his action debut in the 1958 film Thunder Road. One of his most well-known roles might be as Burke Delvin in the original Dark Shadows, with him portraying the character across 107 episodes from 1966 to 1967.
In the 70s and 80s, Ryan's career included playing the lead role on Chase, as well as stints on Executive Suite, Having Babies, The Chisholms, and Dallas. He also portrayed Kyle Riker, the father of William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, after nearly landing the series' lead role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
"I never really planned my career in any way, shape or form," Ryan explained in a 2018 interview with StarTrek.com. "I just did what came up. It was great, what I got to do in my career, but theater is the only thing you can plan, whereas films and television come up. As an actor, you turn down a couple of things that are really awful, but most of the time I just took what was offered. Ricardo Montalban, when he got the SAG Actors Award, and it was presented by Anthony Quinn, said, "Anthony Quinn gets 20 scripts and he chooses the one he wants to be in, and I have to do the one they send me." That's sort of how it is."
In terms of films, Ryan's work included Lethal Weapon, Grosse Pointe Blank, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and Winter People.
His latter work included portraying Edward Montgomery on Dharma & Greg, as well as brief stints on The West Wing and The Drew Carey Show, and voicing Highfather in two 2003 episodes of the Justice League animated series. His final onscreen appearance was a 2021 episode of Smartphone Theatre.
Our thoughts are with Ryan's family, friends, and fans at this time.