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.
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.”
I am so devastated by Mark Blum’s passing. 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. pic.twitter.com/vC5rlpRJtq
Found out a terrific actor and man whom I was lucky enough to be in one of my plays died this morning of #coronavirus. He wasn’t elderly. He was one of the most respected actors in New York: a beacon of fierce intelligence, dry wit & deep kindness on stage and off. A tragic loss.
With love and heavy hearts, Playwrights Horizons pays tribute to Mark Blum, a dear longtime friend and a consummate artist who passed this week. Thank you, Mark, for all you brought to our theater, and to theaters and audiences across the world. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/NMVZFB5hPb
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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