Charles Kimbrough, who was nominated for an Emmy for his role as the steady news anchor Jim Dial on the TV show Murphy Brown for ten years, has died. He was 86.
His son, John Kimbrough, told The New York Times that Kimbrough died on January 11 in Culver City.
Kimbrough has been on stage for a long time. In 1971, he was nominated for a Tony Award as best featured actor in a musical for his role as Harry in the first production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Then, in 1984, he played two different characters in Sunday in the Park with George, another well-known Sondheim musical that won the Pulitzer Prize.
Kimbrough also starred with Sarah Jessica Parker in the first off-Broadway production of A.R. Gurney’s comedy Sylvia in 1995. She has also been in Broadway shows like Candide, Same Time, Next Year, Accent on Youth, Hay Fever, The Merchant of Venice, and most recently, a 2012 revival of Harvey with Jim Parsons.
The man from Minnesota also did the voice of Victor, the straight-laced gargoyle, in the animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame from 1996, in its sequel from 2002, and in several video games.
Kimbrough was in all 247 of the original episodes of the hit CBS show Murphy Brown, which ran from 1988 to 1998 and aired on Monday nights. His character was based on elder statesmen like Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. He and Candice Bergen’s character, Murphy, were the co-anchors of the fake CBS news show FYI.
When Murphy Brown came back in September 2018, he was also in a few new episodes.
In an interview with the Archive of American Television in 2007, Murphy Brown creator Diane English said that Kimbrough “wrote a whole biography for his character before he started to play him.”
“Charlie is the nicest, tallest, rubberiest, sweetest, cutest man,” she said. “When he came in to read for us as Jim Dial, he brought it all with him: ramrod posture, anchor voice, and slick-back hair. He made the character seem more real. We didn’t want this guy to be like Ted Baxter. We wanted the genuine article.”
In 1990, he was nominated for an Emmy for supporting comedy actor.