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Richard Fire

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Richard Fire Obituary
Richard Fire

AGE: 69 • Monmouth Hills

Richard Fire, 69, of Monmouth Hills, an Emmy-winning actor who also wrote and directed for the stage and screen, passed away on the evening of Wednesday, July 8, at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank after a brief illness. He was born in Paterson, NJ, on November 12, 1945 to Barney Fire and Fay Sussman, and graduated from Fair Lawn High School in 1963.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a masters in Speech and Drama from the University of Wisconsin (Madison), Richard was a member of the Organic Theater Company in Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s. He served on the theater's board for 15 years and was Artistic Director for four years. During his time at the Organic Theater, the company collaborated with the likes of David Mamet, Roald Dahl, Mary Renault and Kurt Vonnegut on original stage performances. Its longest-running show was E/R, which inspired the hit TV series. Richard co-authored and appeared as Marvin in the baseball-themed play Bleacher Bums, which won an Emmy for the televised production aired in 1979. His co-stars in that broadcast included Joe Mantegna, Dennis Franz, and Keith Szarabajka. All were members of the Organic Theater and remained lifelong friends.

Richard acted in dozens of stage plays in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, as well as overseas in London and Amsterdam. In addition to his teaching at the Organic Theater, he worked with students in New York City, Queens, and Brooklyn. Richard wrote the screenplay for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which was loosely based on the life of Henry Lee Lucas. The film garnered a Best Screenplay nomination at the 1991 Independent Spirit Awards and won in that category at Fantasporto the same year.

Richard's appreciation of the moment—and enthusiasm for what awaited on the horizon—were best captured by his two favorite sayings: "Here we are now" and "The future lies ahead." His creative spark was alive to the very end. At the time of his death, he was working on Class of '63: A Docu-Memory about the social and cultural changes of his generation; a reflection on the seductive nature of fame titled Morrisonland; and Saturnalia, a bawdy musical comedy set in ancient Rome.

He is survived by his wife, Dosia; their son, Adam; a brother, Robert , with his wife, Pat, and daughter, Sarah; his cousin, Carol Lidz, with her husband, Harold; and a sister-in-law, Zywia, with her husband, Piotr Chadzynski, who all grieve at his loss.

A funeral service will be held Monday, July 13 at the Bloomfield-Cooper Jewish Chapel on Rte. 35 in Ocean Township at 11:00 a.m. The service will be streamed live at (ID: 8873; PW: BSJRT, available for one year).

Published in Asbury Park Press on July 12, 2015
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