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William Hardy

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WILLIAM HARDY, age 75, died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on Tuesday October 14th after a battle with cancer. Bill was born on January 19th, 1933 in Houston, TX to Thomas Hardy, Sr. and Mattie Louise Hardy. He was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother Thomas Hardy, Jr., and his first wife, Toni George Hardy. After graduating from the University of Houston with a double major in theater and languages, Bill spent his entire adult life as an actor and director. He spent 20 years as a company member at the Alley Theater with a small detour to serve in the Army during the Korean War, which he said he was clever enough to fight in Germany. He was assigned to the Seventh Army Repertory Company and toured the country doing plays. After his service in the Army, he returned to Houston and the Alley, and spent six summers as the artistic director of the Point Summer Theater in Ingram, TX. In 1979, he played the role of Ed Earl Dodd in the original Tower Theater production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" then subsequently did the National Tour starring Alexis Smith. After a brief stay in Los Angeles, he and his wife moved to New York City, where they remained for ten years. He appeared in plays, commercials, and soap operas, but one of his proudest achievements was his appearance in the Emmy winning mini-series "Separate, But Equal," playing Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark. Bill returned to Houston in 1992, and has since worked in every theatrical venue TUTS, The Alley, Stages, TheatreLaB Houston, Unity Brenham, Actors' Theater of Houston even Houston Grand Opera, where then artistic director David Gockley said that "he stole the show without singing a note." His final performance as an actor is in the as yet unreleased Terence Malick film "Tree of Life" with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Bill touched many lives through his acting, whether it was as a Holocaust survivor in "Old Wicked Songs" or as the wily Marquis de Sade in "Quills." But his favorite role was playing Santa Claus for The Cancer League's children's party at Texas Children's Hospital every Christmas. He had a magical way with children, and they all loved him. Bill is survived by his wife of 27 years, Susan Shofner; daughter Melissa and her children Hannah and Evan Goodearle; daughter Madeleine and husband Daniel Guedea and her children Lindsay Hardy and Pvt. Callan Magee; daughter Alexandra and husband Brian Druker and their children Holden Denson, and Julia and Claire Druker; brother Robert Hardy and wife Lucille; sister Lou Matthews; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. A Celebration of Bill's life will be held Monday October 20th at the Alley Theater at 3:00pm, with a reception to follow in the lobby of the theater. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The University of Houston School of Theater and Dance, 133 C.W.M. Center, Houston, TX 77204-4016.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Oct. 16, 2008
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