Bruce MacVittie, ubiquitous actor, dies at 65

Bruce MacVittie, one of New York’s quintessential character actors, who made his Broadway debut in David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” oppo...


Bruce MacVittie, one of New York’s quintessential character actors, who made his Broadway debut in David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” opposite Al Pacino in 1983 and was a mainstay on Off Broadway stages for more 40, as well as a familiar face in TV and film, died May 7 in Manhattan. He was 65 years old.

His wife, Carol Ochs, confirmed the death, at a hospital, but said the cause had not been determined.

Mr. MacVittie excelled at playing badass with tormented souls, revealing a tenderness at the heart of his characterizations. His type of casting was low-life and street-smart, but he himself ran into rarefied acting circles. In the mid-1980s, he participated in the foundation naked angelsa cast of young film and theater hipsters (including Matthew Broderick and Marisa Tomei) who immediately dazzled New York with the celebrity power and social awareness of their theatrical endeavours.

“Naked Angels was the club that was too cool to let me in,” actress Edie Falco recalled in an interview. “I was just hanging out on the sidelines, dying to get my foot in the door, but Bruce was already there. Bruce and I went through our acting struggles together. We were young together and we grew older together.

Mr. MacVittie’s career began in 1980 at the Ensemble Studio Theater in Manhattan with a starring role in “What’s So Beautiful About a Sunset Over Prairie Avenue?” by Edward Allan Baker.

In 1988, after small roles in the series “Barney Miller” and “Miami Vice”, he got his first big job on television, teaming up with Stanley Tucci in “The Street”, a slice of truth in the life of blue-collar cop set in Newark. Police department. Claiming to be “the first television series filmed entirely in New Jersey”, the series produced 40 episodes in 40 days but only lasted one season. Still, it cast a stylistic shadow over future TV crime dramas.

“Bruce’s background was working class, like me,” said Frances McDormand, another longtime friend. “There was something about celebrating that in our work that was important to both of us. Bruce had a pride where he came from that he carried with him and was even arrogant. It was very charismatic.

Bruce James MacVittie was born in Providence, RI on October 14, 1956. His father, John James MacVittie, was a laborer at the Narragansett Electric Company; his mother Olive (Castergine) MacVittie, was a homemaker.

Bruce grew up in Cranston, RI, where he began acting in high school, and later earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University. He moved to New York in 1979. Four years later, after dubbing for the role of Bobby in Pacino’s revival of “American Buffalo,” Mr. MacVittie took over the role on Broadway and eventually performed it on a national and western tour. End of London.

“Bruce carried that motto, especially for young actors when, like me, he had worked on stage with Pacino,” actor Bobby Cannavale recalled. “The fact that he was elevated to this ‘cover’ role made him even more heroic.”

In 2011, after more than 75 film and television appearances, including 11 different roles in various “Law and Order” franchises, guest spots on “The Sopranos”, “Sex in the City” and “Homicide”, countless theatrical roles, such as his acclaimed performance as a displaced Cuban immigrant in Eduardo Machado’s “Havana is Waiting,” 10 seasons at the Eugene O’Neill Center Playwrights Conference in Connecticut, and an equal number of summers at Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts, Mr. MacVittie put aside his acting career to train as a nurse. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Hunter College in Manhattan in 2013.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Sophia Oliva Ochs MacVittie. Her first marriage ended in divorce. He lived in Manhattan.

Mr MacVittie returned to acting in his later years, including a starring role in Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed Netflix series ‘The Way They See Us’. He confines his nursing activities to the palliative care of friends in need.

“I loved Bruce MacVittie,” Mr. Pacino said in an interview. “His performances were always scintillating and crackling; a heart and a joy to watch. He was the epitome of the struggling New York actor and he made it work. We will miss him.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Bruce MacVittie, ubiquitous actor, dies at 65
Bruce MacVittie, ubiquitous actor, dies at 65
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