Richard Upton, an actor and chef who edited a neighborhood publication after moving to Baltimore two decades ago, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday at his Guilford home. He was 90.
Born in Denver and raised in Greenwich Village in New York City, he was the son of Richard Upton Sr. and his wife, Claire Wood. He attended New York City public schools.
"He was a habitual truant and spent his time on the west-side docks around 55th Street," said George Johnston, a friend and Baltimore attorney. "One day he was caught when his aunt was taking a trip to Europe on the Normandie, and the captain and the crew recognized Richard from the time he had spent on the ship while he cut school."
Mr, Upton retained his love of boating and was a longtime subscriber to Yachting magazine.
In 1947, he left New York and tried a career in acting in Hollywood. He was a bit player and supported himself as a waiter and gardener. He later told friends he befriended actor Tab Hunter and screenwriter and author Wyatt Cooper. He could not make a go of it and returned to New York, where he became a waiter.
In 1959, he established a relationship with Allen P. Golden, a greeting card publisher. They lived in Chelsea and in North Salem, N.Y. A Democrat, Mr. Upton ran unsuccessfully for Congress from a district in Westchester County.
In the 1980s, he was a volunteer at Gay Men's Health Crisis, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan.
"Richard was a remarkable person. He had an understanding of the human condition, and his mind never stopped," said Celia Howard, an actress and friend from New York. "He was witty and at times could be acerbic with a remark that made you laugh. He had energy that drew people to him. Nobody was ever excluded."
In 1993, Mr. Upton and his partner moved from New York to Baltimore and settled in a corner apartment at 700 Washington Place overlooking the Washington Monument. Mr. Upton became active in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Improvement Association and was the editor of the Clarion, the neighborhood newsletter.
He and his partner became advocates of neighborhood improvements. Before the death of his partner in 2004, when Gov. William Donald Schaefer asked that a breakfast for FlowerMart judges be held, Mr. Upton agreed to host the event.
"Richard was a wonderful cook and an exceptional baker," said Mr. Johnston, the former chief operating officer of the Venable law firm. "You really wanted Richard to do your birthday cake."
"He understood well the human need for connections and ... he could bring people together at meals to share conversations and find common bonds," Mr. Johnston said. "His genius was the diversity of folks he brought to the table that might not otherwise have encountered each other."
For several years he warked as a chef in Mount Vernon neighborhood homes. Friends said he could turn out complicated dishes such as veal Orloff but was also remembered for his roasted chicken, corned beef hash and cheese omelets. He was an advocate using of butter and heavy cream in his dishes, friends said.
Mr. Upton returned to acting while living in Baltimore, appearing under the name Richard Reade. He had a lead in a Dan Bell underground movie, "Night Fifty." He also appeared in a short film, "Even in My Dreams," made in 2008 and directed by Flavio Alves. It was featured in film festivals.
For one season, dressed in costume, he appeared as the Duke of Norfolk at the Renaissance Festival at Crownsville.
"He was very comfortable playing nobility," said Carolyn Spedden, the festival's artistic director. "Richard was so one-of-a-kind. He had an openness to embrace any new situation or new person. And as he aged, when I asked, 'How are you feeling?' he replied, 'That's a bore.' He refused to issue a litany of his illnesses."
She also said, "Richard reminded me of an un-tragic Blanche DuBois. He relied upon the kindness of strangers who then instantly became his friends."
In 2010, hMr. Uptone had a book of short stories published. It was titled "Figments and Fragments."
In 2013 he met Xavier Codina. They were married by Judge M. Brooke Murdock the next year. They lived in the Winthrop House.
"Richard had the virtue of being able to speak to everyone, whoever you are," said Mr. Codina.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
He is survived by Mr. Codina.