A native of Chicago, Richard Kiley was the rare performer who could both act and sing beautifully. A longtime favorite narrator for documentary films and broadcasts, Kiley was even featured as the “voice” of the displays in the film Jurassic Park. Probably best known to the general public for his frequent television appearances in the 1970s and 1980s, Kiley was no stranger to the Broadway stage, making his musical debut in 1953 as the Caliph in the Alexander Borodin-inspired show, Kismet, in which he introduced the popular hit “Stranger in Paradise” to the world.
In 1959, Kiley starred as Tom Baxter opposite Gwen Verdon in the Dorothy Fields and Albert Hague musical, Redhead. Kiley won his first Tony Award® for Best Actor in a Musical for that performance. He later played opposite Diahann Carroll in No Strings, the only musical for which Richard Rodgers wrote both the words and the music. Kiley was nominated for a Tony® for that performance as well. Two years later, in 1964, he played Stan the Shpieler in Stan Freeman and James Lawrence’s musical, I Had a Ball, opposite Buddy Hackett.
Richard Kiley’s greatest success on Broadway came in 1965 in the dual role of Don Quixote and Cervantes in Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion’s hit show, Man of La Mancha, in which he was the first to sing the iconic song, “The Impossible Dream.” The production won five Tonys® in 1966, including one for Kiley as Best Actor in a Musical. In the 1977 revival of the show, Kiley earned yet another Tony® nomination for his performance.