5 Things About The ‘Murphy Brown’ Star Dead At 86 –

  • Charles Kimbrough was a veteran actor who was nominated for both a Tony and an Emmy
  • His most famous role was playing news anchor Jim Dial on ‘Murphy Brown’
  • He passed away at the age of 86 in 2023

In sad news, actor Charles Kimbrough passed away at the age of 86 on January 11, 2023 in Culver City, California. Nominated for both a Tony and an Emmy in his distinguished acting career, Charles was best known for playing a cranky news anchor opposite Candice Bergen on the sitcom Murphy Brown, which ran from 1988 to 1998. Learn more about the actor, below.

Charles Kimbrough, famous for his role in ‘Murphy Brown’, died in 2023 at the age of 86. (Everett Collection)

Where was Charles from?

Born on May 23, 1936 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Charles would go on to major in music and theater at Indiana University and later received a master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama. “He came from a buttoned-up Midwestern family, and so he had grown up with people very much like the characters he played,” his son, John Kimbrough, told The New York Times. “They felt very deeply, but kept it hidden beneath a facade of manners and propriety. Somehow he was able to communicate that feeling to audiences, even as the guys he played were keeping it all inside.”

He starred in a Steven Sondheim Broadway musical

After moving to New York from Milwaukee, Charles was immersed in the Big Apple theater scene. After a sting of smaller roles, he hit it big with a lead in the 1970 Broadway production of the Steven Sondheim musical Company. His work would lead to a Tony nomination and the start of a huge career, which often had him playing uptight characters. In the 2012 Broadway revival of Harvey, Kimbrough even played the stringent psychiatrist who is obsessed with his clinic’s reputation.

“Unfortunately, I’m really good at playing jackasses of one kind or another,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2012. “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 added. “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.”

Charles parlayed his ‘Murphy Brown’ role into an Emmy nod

Charles Kimbrough received an Emmy nod for ‘Murphy Brown.’ (Everett Collection)

Those kinds of priggish parts led to his most famous role as news anchor Jim Dial in Murphy Brown. Hilariously opposite Candice Bergen, who played the titular character, Charles would go on to be nominated for an Emmy as Best Supporting Actor.

He was married to an actress from the sitcom ‘Alice’

Almost a decade after his 1991 divorce from first wife, Mary Jane (Wilson) Kimbrough, an actress he had met at Yale, Charles would wed Beth Howland, who co-starred with him in Company. She later found fame as Vera, the airheaded waitress on the Linda Lavin-led sitcom Alice, which debuted in 1976.

Charles was a doting dad

Sadly, Beth passed away from lung cancer at the age of 76 in 2016. In addition to his son, John, Charles is survived by a sister, Linda Kimbrough, and a stepdaughter, Holly Howland.

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