Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wonderful man and fine actor Rick Delaney has died

                  RICK DELANEY  


Tribute by Jenelle Sosa (over 800 views)                      

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

Rick Delaney was, without exaggeration, the most natural male actor I have ever worked with. In the 10+ years I knew him, worked with him, and watched him perform I never ceased being amazed at how he was just able to instantly and perfectly play any role he had, even when it made no logical sense.

I wasn't the only one, but in case anyone had never had a chance to see him in action I would describe it thusly, "See that *inanimate object* over there? That's actually Rick Delaney. He's that good that he had you believing he was that *inanimate object* and you never questioned it." He was a master class in commitment.

Rick devoted his entire life to acting, but he was anything but a diva. He was the gentlest, humblest, person you could ever want to work with. In the time I knew him I only saw him lose his temper once, and it was SO mild and while he was trying to push through a 102* fever during rehearsal. It literally took that to make him lose his cool even a bit. He was diplomatic, a peacemaker, a tension breaker, the master of the good-natured-ribbing.

He was also patient and encouraging, which anyone who tried to direct me twice in Fully Committed would have to be. Any ordinary person would have tried to micro-manage or direct me to be a clone of their own performance that they'd gotten so much praise for, but not Rick. He let me do my thing, handed me paper bags to hyperventilate into, laughed when things were funny, and smiled a lot. Instead of making me feel like I had big shoes to fill he just took me to a shoe store and handed me a blank check.

I could share a million Rick stories; how he could tell you the tragic fate of any young screen ingenue from the 50's and 60's, how we would act like a bitter divorced couple forced to work together on a show and send messages to each other through other people but loudly enough so the other could hear it, ("Please ask MS. SOSA if she plans on saying the lines today as written? I'd like to be prepared!" "/ Please tell MR. DELANEY that the lines might sound familiar if he PUT DOWN THE BOTTLE ONCE IN AWHILE!!!"), but my favorite memory of Rick is any time he played George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.

It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie of all time, so I'm more than a little critical of productions that try to replicate it. Rick's performance in The Theater Project's Radio Play version never got old, never sounded forced, and never stopped capturing the spirit of Jimmy Stewart without being a caricature. The most moving part, without fail, was George's final plea to Clarence. Alone on stage, having seen the worst version of everyone he's ever known Rick would plead to be sent back to his wife and kids. He would cry out, "I want to live again! I want to live again!" with such raw emotion that if you didn't have some sort of feeling inside you from hearing it then you were beyond all hope.

But it was more than just a line. Rick did want to live, but only if he could live doing what he loved. He did what so many don't; he lived the life he wanted in pursuit of what he wanted. And near the end, when he was presented with a life where that was not possible, in his calm and graceful fashion, he said 'no thanks' and chose to stay true to himself. You think you know someone, you think you've seen the best of someone you already thought the world of, and then they go above and beyond and show you they're even bigger and better than you already thought they were.

We all leave this world. When we go is unknown. Where we go is uncertain. What we leave behind is up to us. There is the feeling of a hole left by Rick's passing, but the hole isn't empty. (This is where he'd say something pervy, by the way). In fact it's not a hole at all. It's a space. And the space is, in fact, filled with light and energy and memories; the imprint he left on his corner of the world. I grieve for the loss of my friend, but I don't mourn. To mourn is to regret, and how can I regret the knowing of such a man who made his, and everyone around him's, such A Wonderful Life?

Rest in Power, my friend.

Jenelle Sosa 

Top photo: Rick in "I Hate Hamlet" at the Bickford
Mid photo: Jenelle and Rick


  1. My friend and fellow-Player - Ah, tis a grand man he was and always will be - And Flights of Angels Sing Thee To Thy Rest...

  2. A fine actor, and a fine person.

  3. I worked with Rick twice on stage at New York's Metropolitan Playhouse. He was incredibly kind, extraordinarily talented and just a good-humored joy to be around. I'm so sad to hear this terrible news. Whenever I think of actors of whom I am in awe, Rick always comes to mind those aren't just words. His talent and commitment on stage were something to marvel at. Rest in peace, Rick. Peter Tedeschi