Charles Kimbrough, Best Known for 'Murphy Brown', Dead at 86

The actor received an Emmy nomination for his work on the sitcom, as well as a Tony nomination for his performance in Stephen Sondheim's Company

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (9052523n) Actor Charles Kimbrough attends "Murphy Brown: A 25th Anniversary Event" presented by ENCORE, in New York ENCORE Presents Murphy Brown: A 25th Anniversary Event, New York, USA
Photo: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Charles Kimbrough, best known for his work on CBS's hit sitcom Murphy Brown, has died. He was 86.

Per his family, Kimbrough died of natural causes Jan. 11 at Southern California Hospital in Culver City, Calif.

Kimbrough's agent, Donna Massetti of SMS Talent, said in a statement: "[We] mourn the loss of Charles Kimbrough, a client and friend for over 30 years. Whether on stage or in front of the camera he was a joy to behold."

Kimbrough's portrayal of straight-faced anchorman Jim Dial on Murphy Brown earned him an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series in 1990, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He appeared on all 247 original episodes of the series when it aired from 1988 to 1998, and reprised his character for three episodes in the 2018 reboot, per The New York Times.

In a 2007 clip for The Interviews: An Oral History of Television, Murphy Brown creator Diane English said that Kimbrough "wrote a whole biography for his character before he started to play him."

"Charlie is the most lovable, lanky, rubbery, sweet, adorable man," English added. "When he came in to read for us as Jim Dial, he brought it all there: ramrod posture, anchor voice, slicked-back hair. He brought a credibility to the character."

In 2012, Kimbrough told The Wall Street Journal, "Unfortunately, I'm really good at playing jackasses of one kind or another. I've always been slightly self-conscious as an actor, and I guess that sometimes reads as pomposity."

"Starting when I was 30, I somehow gave off an impression at an audition that had them mentally put me in a three-piece suit or put an attaché case in my hand," he continued. "If there was a stiff-guy part, the director would brighten up when I came in. That wasn't the response I wanted. I was in anguish."

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 1: Murphy Brown, a CBS television situation comedy program featuring topical current events and satire. Pictured is Charles Kimbrough (as Jim Dial, news anchor). January 1, 1993. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
CBS via Getty

Kimbrough also voiced the puritanical gargoyle Victor in both of Disney's animated The Hunchback of Notre Dame films and its several video game iterations.

Before his film and TV roles, Kimbrough was a seasoned Broadway veteran, majoring in music and theater at Indian University. He earned a Master's degree from the Yale School of Drama before he took the stage, NYT reported.

He received a Tony Award nomination for best featured actor in a musical in 1971 for his portrayal of Harry in the original production of Stephen Sondheim's Company, according to THR. He also played two characters in Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday with George, which opened in 1984.

In 1995, Kimbrough starred opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in the original off-Broadway production of Sylvia. His most recent stage appearance was with Jim Parson in a 2012 revival of Harvey, per THR.

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Kimbrough is survived by his son John, granddaughter Cody, sister Linda, nephew Colin and stepdaughter Holly.

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