Monday, December 09, 2019


Actor René Auberjonois—known for playing the rifle-toting pastor in Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" and, perhaps more famously, the shape-shifting Odo on TV's "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"—died yesterday, December 8, at the age of 79. Grandson of a Swiss post-Impressionist painter of the same name, Auberjonois enjoyed a distinguished family heritage that reached back to Napoleonic France and to Russian nobility. The man always had something of a stiff, regal bearing, as well as one of the most correct ways of enunciating English that I have ever heard. His pronunciation was sharp enough to perform surgery with. Always an impressive screen presence, and constitutionally incapable of playing undignified roles (can one of my readers cite a role in which Auberjonois played, say, a drunken homeless person or an inarticulate loser with a gambling addiction?), Auberjonois died of metastatic lung cancer. He was at his home at the time of his passing. Despite being as American as apple pie, Auberjonois had the sort of stately poise that would have allowed him to blend in seamlessly with the cast of "Downton Abbey." While I can't say I've seen much of his TV and cinematic filmography, I can say he was always a memorable presence, gifted not only with dignity but also with a precise sense of comic timing. He will be missed.

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