Douglas Seale, a British producer, actor and director whose 65-year career on both sides of the Atlantic brought him to the stage, films and television, died last Sunday at St. Vincent's Hospital here. He was 85 and lived in Manhattan.
Seale's most recent appearance was as Billy Rice, the fading vaudevillian father of Archie Rice in the 1996 c Stage Co. revival of John Osborne's play "The Entertainer." He was perhaps best known to Broadway theatergoers as Selsdon Mowbray, the drunken actor who missed his every cue in the 1983 production of Michael Frayn's comedy Noises Off.
The performance brought him a Tony Award nomination for featured actor in a play.
Seale, whose career as an actor led him to films like Aladdin (as the voice of the Sultan), Ghostbusters II and Amadeus, to television shows like Cheers and Rags to Riches, and plays like The Dresser and Frankenstein, also won praise for his work as a director and producer.
cally trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he produced Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" at the Birmingham Repertory Theater; Shakespeare's "King John" at Stratford-on-Avon and Stratford, Ont.; "Henry V" in Stratford, Conn., and "King Lear" at the Old Vic.
As a director, he staged such plays as "King Lear" for the Marin Shakespeare Festival in San Francisco; "A Doll's House" and "Look Back in Anger" in Cleveland, and "The Winslow Boy" in New York.
His animated direction of "King John" at the Stratford, Ont., Shakespeare Festival in 1960 prompted Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times to begin his review by writing: "If you decide to put on one of Shakespeare's dull plays, send for Douglas Seale on the double."
Seale, who displayed youthful talent as an artist, was impelled toward a career in the theater by a schoolmaster who encouraged him after seeing him in a school play. He made his professional debut in "The Drums Begin" in London in 1934 and served in the British Army from 1940 to 1946, when he returned to civilian life and joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theater Company for two seasons at Stratford-on-Avon.