René Murat Auberjonois (English pronunciation: /rəˈneɪ oʊˈbɛərʒənwɑː/; born June 1, 1940, died December 8, 2019) was an American actor, known for portraying Father Mulcahy in the movie version of M*A*S*H and for creating a number of characters in long-running television series, including Clayton Endicott III on Benson (for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award), Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and attorney Paul Lewiston on Boston Legal.
Early life and background
Auberjonois was born in New York City. His father, Swiss-born Fernand Auberjonois (1910–2004), was a Cold War-era foreign correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer. His grandfather, also named René Auberjonois, was a French Swiss post-Impressionist painter. His mother was Princess Laure Louise Napoléone Eugénie Caroline Murat (1913–1986), a great-great granddaughter of Joachim Murat, King of Naples, and his wife Caroline Bonaparte, sister of the Emperor Napoléon. His maternal grandmother, Hélène Macdonald Stallo (1893–1932), was an American, from Cincinnati, Ohio; his maternal grandfather's mother was a Russian noblewoman, Eudoxia Michailovna Somova (1850–1924), and his maternal grandfather's paternal grandmother, Caroline Georgina Fraser, was also an American, from Charleston, South Carolina.
Auberjonois has a sister and a brother and also two half-sisters from his mother's first marriage. His family moved to Paris after World War II, where at an early age he decided to become an actor.
After a few years in France, the family moved back to the U.S. and joined an artists' colony in Rockland County, New York, whose other residents included Burgess Meredith, John Houseman, and Helen Hayes. The environment confirmed Auberjonois' decision to act, and he made important contacts that were to advance his career. One of the most influential contacts Auberjonois made during this period was Houseman, who gave him his first job in the theater at sixteen years of age as an apprentice. They worked together again later, when Auberjonois taught under Houseman at the Juilliard School, and Auberjonois stated in a 1993 interview that Houseman was the person who had most influenced his career. The Auberjonois family also lived in London, England, where Auberjonois completed high school while studying theatre. To complete his education, Auberjonois attended and graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University).
Auberjonois married Judith Mihalyi on October 19, 1963. They have two children, Tessa Auberjonois and Remy, both of whom are also actors.
After college, Auberjonois worked with several different theatre companies, beginning at the prestigious Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He then traveled between Los Angeles and New York working in numerous theatre productions. Auberjonois helped found the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music Repertory Company in New York. He was a member of the Peninsula Players summer theater program during the 1962 season.
Eventually, Auberjonois landed a role on Broadway in 1968, and ended up appearing in three plays at once: as Fool to Lee J. Cobb's King Lear (the longest running production of the play in Broadway history), as Ned in A Cry of Players (opposite Frank Langella), and as Marco in Fire!. The next year, he earned a Tony Award for his performance as Sebastian Baye alongside Katharine Hepburn in Coco. Other Tony nominations were for Neil Simon's The Good Doctor (1973, opposite Christopher Plummer); as The Duke in Big River (1984), winning a Drama Desk Award; and, memorably, as Buddy Fidler/Irwin S. Irving in City of Angels (1989), written by Larry Gelbart and Cy Coleman.
Other Broadway appearances include Malvolio in Twelfth Night (1972); Scapin in Tricks (1973); Mr. Samsa in Metamorphosis opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov (1989); Professor Abronsius in Dance of the Vampires, Michael Crawford's unsuccessful rewrite of Tanz der Vampire; and Jethro Crouch in Sly Fox (2004, for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award). Auberjonois has also appeared many times at the Mark Taper Forum, notably as Malvolio in Twelfth Night and as Stanislavski in Chekhov in Yalta. As a member of the Second Drama Quartet, Auberjonois toured with Ed Asner, Dianne Wiest, and Harris Yulin. He also appeared in the Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn work, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, at the Kennedy Center and the Metropolitan Opera.
Auberjonois made his debut at the Shakespeare Theatre Company as the titular character in Molière's The Imaginary Invalid through July 27, 2008.
Auberjonois has also directed many theatrical productions.
After M*A*S*H, Auberjonois's movie roles have included the gangster Tony in Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988) and Reverend Oliver in The Patriot (2000, starring Mel Gibson). He has had some cameos in a number of films, including Dr. Burton, a mental asylum doctor patterned after Tim Burton, in Batman Forever, and a bird expert who gradually transforms into a bird in Robert Altman's 1970 film Brewster McCloud. He cameod as Colonel West in the 1991 Star Trek film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other notable film appearances have included McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971, starring Warren Beatty), The Hindenburg (1975, co-starring George C. Scott), the first remake of King Kong (1976), The Big Bus (1976), Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Where The Buffalo Roam (1980), My Best Friend is a Vampire (1988), Eulogy, The Feud, and Inspector Gadget (1999). Auberjonois also portrayed the character of Straight Hollander in the 1993 Miramax film The Ballad of Little Jo. He voiced Louis the Chef in the 1st and 2nd Little Mermaid films and the Butler in Joseph: King of Dreams.
In addition to being a regular on three TV shows in three different genres (Benson [situation comedy]; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine [science fiction]; and Boston Legal [legal drama]), Auberjonois has been a guest star on many different television series, including The Rockford Files, Charlie's Angels, Starsky & Hutch, The Jeffersons, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, Frasier, Judging Amy, Chicago Hope, The Bob Newhart Show, Star Trek: Enterprise, Stargate SG-1, Warehouse 13, L.A. Law, The Practice (for which he received another Emmy nomination, playing a different character than the one he has played on The Practice spinoff Boston Legal), and Saving Grace. Television movie credits include Disney's Geppetto, Gore Vidal's The Kid, the remake of the classic, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and the miniseries Sallie Hemings: An American Scandal (2000). He received a third Emmy Award nomination for his performance in ABC's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Auberjonois had voiced several roles, including characters on Snorks, Batman: The Animated Series, Avatar the Last Airbender, Xiaolin Showdown, Justice League Unlimited, Max Steel, and Random! Cartoons.
Auberjonois had directed some TV shows, including Marblehead Manor and several episodes of Deep Space Nine listed below.
Radio and other voice work
Auberjonois had also been active in radio drama. Among other programs, he read "The Stunt" by Mordechai Strigler for the NPR series Jewish Stories From the Old World to the New. He has also recorded a number of novels on tape. On PRI he has been featured numerous times on Selected Shorts, reading works of dramatic fiction.
As for film voice-overs, he was heard in Disney's The Little Mermaid (receiving alphabetical top billing as Chef Louis), and as The Skull in The Last Unicorn. He reprised an animated version of his character Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in a cutaway joke in Family Guy's Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. The cutaway featured a more humanoid-faced Odo threatening Stewie's alleged cousin Quark Griffin.
He also did the voice of Vanity Smurf from the Smurfs series in 1980s, Dr. Braxis in Challenge of the GoBots, and was the voice of Peter Parker on the 1972 Buddah Records Spider-Man LP "From Beyond the Grave" (BDS 5119), a radio-style narrative replete with sound effects and rock and roll song interludes provided by "The Webspinners", in which the characters of The Vulture, The Lizard, The Green Goblin, The Kingpin and Doctor Strange also appeared. In 1984 and 1985, Rene gave voice to Desaad, an associate of the villainous Darkseid on the animated series, Super Friends. From 1986-1987 he voiced Alvinar in a cartoons series Wildfire. Rene also provided the voice for Janos Audron, an ancient vampire in the Legacy of Kain video game series; he was in Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2, and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. He also provided the voice of Angler in the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End video game. He voice-played General Zod in the Joseph Ruby-Kenneth Spears animated Superman series episode titled "The Hunter". Rene also provided minor character voices for "Justice League, The Animated series", with parts such as 2003's "In Blackest Night", as Kanjar-Ro, a pirate testifying in the trial of the Green Lantern.
His most recent voice work includes voicing Karl Schäfer in the video game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
He did voice work for the video game Fallout: New Vegas. He played Mr. House, the enigmatic and reclusive ruler of New Vegas.
Deep Space Nine directorial credits
- "Prophet Motive"
- "Family Business"
- "Hippocratic Oath"
- "The Quickening"
- "Let He Who Is Without Sin..."
- "Ferengi Love Songs"
- "Strange Bedfellows"
Auberjonois died from metastatic lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles on December 8, 2019, at age 79. He is survived by his wife Judith and his two children Tessa and Remy Auberjonois, both of whom are also actors.
- YouTube - Video Greeting from Rene Auberjonois
- "Obituary: Fernand Auberjonois / Much admired foreign correspondent who lived a chronicle of 20th century". Postgazette.com. 2004-08-28. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
- Peninsula Players 65th Anniversary Program, 1999
- "Tony Awards Database: René Auberjonois". American Theatre Wing. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- René Auberjonois at the Internet Movie Database
- REDIRECT Template:AllRovi person
- René Auberjonois at TV.com
- René Auberjonois at the Internet Broadway Database
- Rene Auberjonois at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- René's Home Page
- Auberjonois' profile at the Boston Legal site
- Auberjonois' profile at the StarTrek.com website
- Profile and interview at TV Guide
- REDIRECT Template:DramaDesk MusicalFeaturedActor 1975–2000
- REDIRECT Template:TonyAward MusicalFeaturedActor 1947–1975
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