Robert Falls

Howard Witt, longtime stage actor, dies at 85

Howard Witt, longtime stage actor, dies at 85

A rakish, irascible, handsome, poorly behaved and thoroughly charming actor known for both his rich comedy and an oft-confounding sense of pathos, Howard Witt was the embodiment of what, in theater circles, is often abbreviated to "the old school."

But if the final exit of Witt, who died peacefully Thursday in Chicago at 85 after a period of decline, was an occasion for much wistful nostalgia for a vanishing sense of craft and fun, the Chicago-born and Chicago-loving actor also was remembered for his perennial youthfulness.

"He was always loud and alive and he never stopped being loud and alive," said his daughter, Robin Witt, a stage director of whom the...