Christopher McHale

christopher mchale

March 30, 1954 ~ September 12, 2023

Christopher McHale

March 30, 1954 – September 12, 2023

New York, NY

Christopher Ian McHale passed away suddenly of heart disease at home in the East Village of Manhattan on September 12, 2023. He was an actor from early in his life to nearly its end. While he appeared occasionally in movies (The Devil's Own, Sunset Park, F/X, The Seduction of Joe Tynan) and on television (New York News, The Equalizer, Without a Trace, Charles & Diana, the Law & Order franchise), he was above all, a theater actor. At Lincoln Center, he appeared in Oslo (winning an Obie for Ensemble), Macbeth, Nikolai and the Others, Golden Boy, King Lear and Joe Turner's Come and Gone. On Broadway he appeared in Ink, Execution of Justice, Julius Caesar, Piaf and The Iceman Cometh, while Off-Broadway credits include many plays with The Public Theatre (The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Julius Caesar, King John, Macbeth, Othello, Richard II) and elsewhere (Robert Litz’s Domino at the New York Theatre Workshop; Catherine Filloux’s Lemkin’s House at the McGinn-Cazale; John Patrick Shanley’s Defiance at the Manhattan Theatre Club). Over the years he acted extensively in Regional Theatre productions, including at Yale Rep, the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, the Arena Stage (DC), Hartford Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, Merrimack Rep (Lowell MA) and the Magic Theatre (San Francisco).

Born in Pittsburgh and raised in its South Hills suburbs, Chris first acted in high school, and then studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University. Upon graduating, he served an apprenticeship at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC and then he relocated to New York and, apart from forays to far-flung regional theatres, lived out the rest of his life there. He was respected by his peers in the theatre for his seriousness and his dedication to his art. He brought to productions a range of specialized expertise: facility with accents (including the nearly-impossible Ulster/Northern Ireland one), mastery of stage fighting (a skill in which he was trained by the dean of stage-fight choreographers, B.H. Barry) and a profound understanding of what Shakespeare’s verse means and how to perform it. Despite possessing the skills of a Shakespearean, he treasured opportunities to perform new plays and American classics. After the covid-19 pandemic closed the theaters, acting work became sparse, and Chris kept his hand in by performing as “standardized patient” for budding doctors in the medical program at NYU Langone. To the end, he was an artist and a consummate professional.

Apart from acting, his greatest pleasure was long daily runs on the streets and in the parks of Manhattan.

Chris mentored many fellow-actors and was beloved by many friends inside and outside his profession, as he was by his siblings Brian, Claire and Kevin and their spouses (Esther Gottlieb, George Milner, Sharon Krinsky) and their children (Alma and Lily Gottlieb-McHale, Hugh Milner, Alexandra McHale). Donations can be made to the Actors Equity Foundation at actorsequityfoundation.org.

A celebration of his life will be held on October 29th from 4pm-6pm at the Linen Hall Venue at The Penny Farthing Tavern at 103 3rd avnue (13th street ) in Manhattan, NY.

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  1. I was sorry to hear this news; I've been a fellow Standardized Patient role-player with Chris for a good while.

    He was always a pleasure to see again, and to work with, over the years – as are just about all SPs. (Contrary to some old jokes, most Actors are pretty amazing human beings.)

    As we are about to do again at the reading of the names at the annual Memorial Service of the Episcopal Actor's Guild at The Little Church Around The Corner, I offer ~

    One last Standing "O," Chris!

    Prayers for him where he is now, and for comfort for all of his loved ones here.

    Sincerely,
    – Fellow Player Craig
    (Wichman)

  2. I'm in tears at this news. We acted together in "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern" when I was 15. At 16, he directed me in "Left-Handed Liberty" and then we both went on to Carnegie Mellon and acted together in several shows. We both moved to NYC but lost touch, though I did see him in a show and was so proud. My mom's nickname for him (as I mentioned him so often) was 'Christmas Hale.'
    He was, to me, larger than life, and a gifted, kind person.

    “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

  3. Chris & I acted together in several plays at Mt Lebanon High School including my first one ever, Zoo Story by Edward Albee. It was always a pleasure to work on stage with someone as talented and as giving, to other actors as Chris was. My condolences to his family.

  4. Chris and I became friends and colleagues at Mount Lebanon High School in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. He was always Larger than Life but kinder and gentler than most people I have known. He coached me he guided me he encouraged me he directed me and I am honored to have known him. We lost touch over all these years and but occasionally I'd see him in a film or a show and I was so proud of his work and the person he was to me and others around me. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

  5. I'm so saddened to hear this. I was in Thespian's with Chris at Mt. Lebanon High School. I loved how he could bring his characters to life on the stage. He always appreciated the behind the scene workers (make up, scenery, stage managing etc.)as well as his fellow actors. He had a great sense of humor and a wonderful announcing voice. Such a successful career! Rest in peace Chris. You've left a mark on many lives. Prayers to his family and friends.

  6. My heart goes out to all of Chris's family for the too soon loss of a kind and talented man. I knew Chris at Carnegie-Mellon so many years ago. He took my movement class and we became friends. I was always quite impressed with the seriousness with which he took his art, his kindness to all members of the cast and crew, and his sense of humor. I lost track of him for many years as we lived on opposite coasts, but a mutual friend. Catherine McNeal, called to tell me he was performing at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. We attended his show and once again, still, he was an impressive actor. Afterwards we gathered to reminisce and I noted to myself that he carried the seriousness of his art all through these years. He was a dedicated artist. And a smart and kind human being with a smile I shall never forget. He will be missed.

  7. Farewell, Christopher Ian McHale, my dear Guildenstern. Thank you for your kindness, generosity and brilliance, way back in 1971, when, as seniors at Mt. Lebanon High School, we shared our moment in the lights, me as Ros and you as Guil. Still now, more than 50 years hence, just conjuring memories of that time never fails to stir me and elicit a smile. The type of huge, irrepressible, triumpant smile we gave each other from the wings that night as we waited to take our bows. Take a final bow, my friend. Well played.

    Bruce Ian Favish

  8. Just suddenly was thinking of Christopher- Chris – and saw this. I had many a wonderful date with him drinking beers at the Cedar Tavern, among others. He always drank Guinness, I always drank Corona with a lime.

    Rest easy, Chris. xxx

    Olivia Keister


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