David Dukes was a versatile and prolific actor who had a long career in films, television, and theater. He was known for his roles in the miniseries The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, as well as his appearances on shows like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Three’s Company, Sisters, and Dawson’s Creek. He also received critical acclaim for his performances on Broadway, especially in the plays Bent and M. Butterfly. He was nominated for an Emmy and a Tony award for his work.
However, Dukes’s life and career were cut short by a sudden and tragic death. He died of a heart attack on October 9, 2000, in Spanaway, Washington, while on location shooting the Stephen King miniseries Rose Red. He was only 55 years old.
The Circumstances of His Death
According to The Celebrity Deaths, Dukes collapsed on the evening of October 9, 2000, in Spanaway, a town near Fort Lewis, where he was staying for the filming of Rose Red. He was pronounced dead at St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, a hospital spokeswoman said. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office in Tacoma performed an autopsy and determined that the cause of death was cardiovascular disease, or a heart attack. Dukes had also suffered a head injury, possibly when he collapsed, but that was not a factor in his death, the spokesman said.
Rose Red was a miniseries based on a novel by Stephen King, who also wrote the screenplay. It was about a group of psychics who investigate a haunted mansion in Seattle. Dukes played Professor Carl Miller, a skeptic who tries to debunk the paranormal phenomena. The miniseries was scheduled to air in the spring of 2002 on ABC.
Dukes’s death shocked and saddened his co-stars and colleagues, who remembered him as a talented and generous actor. King himself expressed his condolences and praised Dukes’s performance in Rose Red. He said, “David was a pro, a real joy to work with. He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the role of Carl Miller, and I think he would have been very proud of the finished product.”
His Life and Career
Dukes was born on June 6, 1945, in San Francisco, California, the son of a California Highway Patrol officer. He was the eldest of four boys. He attended the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he began his acting career.
He made his Broadway debut in 1971, and later appeared in several plays, including a revival of Molière’s The School for Wives. He also played Dracula, Doctor Frankenstein, and Antonio Salieri in the original production of Amadeus, replacing Ian McKellen. He received a Tony nomination in 1980 for best featured actor in a play for Bent, a drama about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany. He also replaced John Lithgow in the original production of David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly, a story of a French diplomat who falls in love with a male Chinese opera star. In 1998, he was one of the three characters in a London West End production of Art with Stacy Keach and George Wendt.
Dukes’s film career included 35 movies. He appeared in films such as The First Deadly Sin, The Men’s Club, Gods and Monsters, and The Last Days of Disco. He also starred in several TV movies and miniseries, such as The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal, The Women’s Room, The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, The Josephine Baker Story, and Norma Jean & Marilyn. He received an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a miniseries or special for his role in The Josephine Baker Story in 1991.
Dukes was also a frequent TV guest star, appearing on many popular shows. He played the man who attempted to rape Edith Bunker on All in the Family, an advertising executive on The Jeffersons, and a blind bully on Three’s Company. He also had recurring roles on shows such as Pauly, Sisters, and Dawson’s Creek. He played the transvestite husband of the oldest sister on Sisters, and the father of Jack and Andie on Dawson’s Creek. He also appeared on shows like The Practice, Law & Order, and Without a Trace.
Dukes was also an accomplished audiobook narrator, recording several books, including Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater and Isaac Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation.
Dukes was married twice. He married his first wife, Carolyn McKenzie, in 1965, when he was a student at the College of Marin. They had a son, Shawn, and divorced in 1975. He married his second wife, Carol Muske-Dukes, a poet, writer, and professor, in 1983. They had a daughter, Annie. He was married to Carol until his death.
Dukes was a respected and admired actor who left behind a legacy of diverse and memorable roles. He was also a loving husband and father who was devoted to his family. His death was a loss for the entertainment industry and his fans. He will always be remembered for his talent and his passion.