In Remembrance: Dana Elcar
Dana Elcar, the character actor whose real life onset of blindness was written into his role on the television series MacGyver, has passed away on Monday, June 6, 2005 in Ventura, California. He was 77.
Born Ibson Dana Elcar on October 10, 1927 in Ferndale, Michigan, he first became interested in acting after spending a night in a theatre while running away from home watching Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Elcar joined the Navy at age 18 and was stationed in Newfoundland. After his service, he attended the University of Michigan and helped found the Ann Arbor Theatre. He was expelled from school for appearing in off-campus professional productions.
Elcar appeared in several off-Broadway plays including the first American productions of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter and The Caretaker, as well as Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. After appearing in several television productions, Elcar’s first role was in the Cold War drama Fail Safe (1964).
Elcar permanently relocated to Los Angeles in 1968 and in the mid-70s helped to found the L.A. Actors’ Theatre. He also continued to appear in supporting roles in films such as The Fool Killer (1965), The Boston Strangler (1968), The Learning Tree (1969), The Sting (1973), The Champ (1979), The Nude Bomb (1980), All Of Me (1984) and 2010 (1984). He also appeared in such television series as Baretta, Baa Baa Black Sheep and the miniseries Centennial.
In 1989, after spending four years playing Richard Dean Anderson’s boss on the television series MacGyver, Elcar discovered that he was going blind due to glaucoma. Rather than allow him to quit the series, the producers instead wrote the illness into his character’s story, allowing Elcar to remain on the show until it ended in 1992.
Elcar’s last film appearance was in the 1987 drama Inside Out.