Saturday, June 25, 2016

RIP Stu Nisbet


There are actors you’ve seen a thousand times but have no idea who they are. One was Stu Nisbet.

He passed away this week at 82. You won’t see a thousand Facebook tributes. There won’t be a TCM retrospective. I doubt he’ll even appear in the Emmy’s “In Memoriam” section this year. His credit was often in the closing titles, so squeezed or sped up. But if you go to his imdb page you’ll see he’s been in practically every television series that’s ever been. 172 of them are listed and that’s only a partial compilation. It only begins in 1960 and he did dozens of series in the ‘50s including multiple episodes of the original DRAGNET. He was a semi-regular on THE VIRGINIAN, he was in the classic “Plastics, Ben” party scene in THE GRADUATE, Martin Scorsese’s CASINO, MISTER ROBERTS, and even PROJECT UFO.

I knew him because at 82 he was in the improv workshop I attend every Wednesday night. He was actually one of the reasons I did attend because I loved watching him work. His mind was quicker and funnier than folks half his age. And talk about spry – even in his 80’s if he had to play an elderly character he put on an old man voice. He never thought of himself as old (probably because he never was.) 

Characters were his forte. My favorites were clueless classical thespian Chester Darby and a senior citizen stoner (“Dude!”)

He was self-deprecating as well. At the end of class the instructor, Andy Goldberg, always asks if anyone has an announcement (an upcoming appearance, etc.). Stu would raise his hand and proudly announce that “As of tonight my likeness has not been committed to celluloid for 247 weeks.” (Of course that was not true.)

To me Stu Nisbet was an inspiration – someone that age still eager to learn, to improve his craft. And no one was more supportive of the younger members of the group. He had a loud easy laugh and thoroughly took joy in the success of other performers.

He will live on through his work. I bet if you tuned to MeTV or TV Land right now, there he is as a bartender, doctor, banker, policeman, technician, judge, or storekeeper – and that’s just on DRAGNET ’67.

He loved people and especially loved entertaining them. RIP Stu Nisbet. You are forever “aces.”

13 comments:

Griff said...

What a lovely, thoughtful tribute.

Pete Grossman said...

Ken, Stu sounded like an outstanding "dude." Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

Igor said...

Thanks, Ken.

Eileen said...

So sorry to hear of his passing. Thanks for the nice tribute.

VincentS said...

Wonderful tribute, Ken. Thank God he had the "plastics" moment in THE GRADUATE to be remembered for.

H Johnson said...

Thank you for this tribute. I didn't know his name but he was one of those actors that when he came on screen, made the show instantly better. I'm sorry for your loss as his friend.

Aloha

Victor Velasco said...

RIP Officer Gideon Dengle

MikeK.Pa. said...

Curious if that's your daughter doing improv with Stu?

Ken Levine said...

Yep. Annie & Stu.

Anonymous said...

Now I feel like I knew the guy.

Nice job, Ken.

Thomas Mossman said...

And the bookstore owner who got burglarized by Tim Donnelly, alias the Crimson Crusader.

"Come on, we can cry in my office."

Johnny Walker said...

Woah! I've been away from your blog as my country has been imploding, and just saw this now. Sad to hear that Stu has passed away :(

I never really got to know him, but he seemed like a lovely guy. He was always quick to laugh, and always warm and friendly. And, as you say Ken, he was also inspirational. I hope I'm still attending an improv class at 82!

RIP Stu

i could be a bob said...

Stu getting a notice on Deadline, a few days late.

http://deadline.com/2016/06/stuart-nisbet-dies-extremely-prolific-character-actor-was-82-1201782105/