Mark Blum, 'Desperately Seeking Susan' Star, Dead at 69 from Coronavirus Complications

Many of Mark Blum's former costars and collaborators honored him on Thursday after his death

Mark Blum
Mark Blum. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty

Mark Blum, a character actor known for playing a number of notable roles across stage and screen, has died due to complications associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He was 69.

News of Blum’s death was reported on Wednesday and later confirmed on Thursday by his representatives. Blum’s one of at least 1,069 patients with the virus who have died since its outbreak, according to a New York Times database.

A native of New Jersey, Blum began his career working in the theater, with his first credited role in the 1977 Broadway production of The Merchant.

He eventually moved on to the big screen, nabbing notable roles in 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan — as Gary, the love interest of Madonna’s character — and 1986’s Crocodile Dundee, where he played the man tossed aside by Linda Kozlowski’s Sue for Paul Hogan’ title character.

On television, Blue booked guest parts on popular shows over his three-decade career, like St. Elsewhere, Miami Vice, Roseanne, Wings, Frasier, The Sopranos, The West Wing, The Practice, Judging Amy, Law & Order, The Good Wife, The Blacklist, Difficult People, Elementary and Billions.

There were recurring roles, too,on NYPD Blue (FBI Agent Mike Francis), Mozart in the Jungle (Union Bob), Succession (Bill), and You (Mr. Mooney).

But Blum never left theater behind. He was a regular fixture on the New York City stage. On Broadway, he appeared in nine shows, including Lost in Yonkers (1991), The Graduate (2002), Twelve Angry Men (2004) and two productions of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (2000 and 2012). His last Broadway credit was The Assembled Parties in 2013, opposite Judith Light and Jessica Hecht.

Off-Broadway, he starred in 26 different productions, many of them at Playwrights Horizons — like 2016’s Rancho Viejo and 1989’s Gus and Al, a performance which earned him an Obie Award.

Desperately Seeking Susan
Madonna and Mark Blum in Desperately Seeking Susan. Orion/Kobal/Shutterstock
Desperately Seeking Susan
Rosanna Arquette and Mark Blum in Desperately Seeking Susan. Orion/Kobal/Shutterstock

Many of Blum’s former costars and collaborators honored him on Thursday after his death.

I am so devastated by Mark Blum’s passing,” said Cynthia Nixon. “His performances in the dozens of plays I saw him in were unfailingly deep, subtle, hilarious and moving in equal measure. Seeing his name in the Playbill always meant you were in for a treat. Also just one of the loveliest humans ever.”

He was one of the most respected actors in New York: a beacon of fierce intelligence, dry wit & deep kindness on stage and off,” said playwright Jack Canfora in a tweet. “A tragic loss.”

Rosanna Arquette, who stared in Desperately Seeking Susan with Blum, tweeted that Blum’s los was “very very hard” for her.

“I’m so deeply sad for his family and for his fans,” she said. “he was a wonderful actor and a very good and kind man. May you Rest In Peace and power mark. God bless you.”

With love and heavy hearts, Playwrights Horizons pays tribute to Mark Blum, a dear longtime friend and a consummate artist who passed this week,” the Off-Broadway house tweeted. “Thank you, Mark, for all you brought to our theater, and to theaters and audiences across the world. We will miss you.”

Blum is survived by his wife, Janet Zarish, also 69. Like her husband, Zarish has a number of stage and screen credits — including Seinfeld, Mad About You, and a recurring role on One Life to Live (Janet Ketring).

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