Remembering Phoenix Actor Richard Glover

Phoenix actor Richard Glover has died.
Phoenix actor Richard Glover has died. Courtesy of Matthew Weiner
Richard Glover was that rarest of things: a respected local stage, film, and TV actor whose name and performances people remember decades later.

“He was a major player and a nice guy,” his friend and colleague Richard Warren says of Glover, who died late last month at age 65 of complications of Parkinson’s disease. “Very smart, and an intuitive actor who was just really well-respected.”

Glover will likely be most remembered for his performance in a 1987 Actors Theatre of Phoenix production of Orphans, directed by Judy Rollings. And many will recall an early breakout turn in House of Blue Leaves at Scottsdale Community College in 1977, directed by Glover’s friend Pamela Fields.

True West was his real big deal, though,” says Glover’s close friend Mark DeMichele of Glover’s performance in the beloved Sam Shepard play. “I directed him in that in 1984 for Actors Lab, and he played it again later. He was amazing in that.”

Glover, DeMichele says, was a work horse. “He was always in some movie or reading a play. He did a ton of movies and a bunch of TV, too. Gunsmoke, Young Riders, Little House on the Prairie. He worked constantly, but he never bragged. You had to make him tell you what TV show he had just been filming.”

DeMichele says the actor was equally reticent to discuss his private life. “Over the years, I kind of had to piece together his history. He was in the military just before I met him at ASU. I was the new grad student, hired to be his understudy, so I spent a lot of time watching him. He was a bit of a recluse, but then you’d be onstage with him and everything was right there.”

“When we did the New Works festival, you only had four days to rehearse,” Warren recalls. “Richard was totally focused on the play, and passionate about it. This wasn’t always true of even our best actors. It was exciting to watch him work.”

Glover originated the lead in Warren’s How I Came to Be Buffalo Bill, which played in venues around the country before settling at western theme park Rawhide for an extended run. “He hated that,” Warren says, “because people came in as if he were an exhibit, or a feature at a petting zoo. He was trying to give a two-act play.”

Glover’s frustration with theater continued, and after a blowup during rehearsals of Rounding Third, a baseball comedy at Actors Theatre, Glover (who was replaced in the play by New York actor Nicolas Glaser) retired from the stage.

“He almost never worked again after that,” Warren says. As symptoms of Parkinson’s began to overtake him, Glover stopped going out, seeing friends.

“Richard was delightful to be with,” says Warren. “But where you really got the most of him was in his acting. He was quite antisocial, so maybe in a way he was giving himself to an audience of strangers, rather than to his friends or the people in his life.”

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela