Keene Curtis
Keene Holbrook Curtis

(1923-02-15)February 15, 1923
DiedOctober 13, 2002(2002-10-13) (aged 79)
Alma materUniversity of Utah
Years active1948-1998

Keene Holbrook Curtis (February 15, 1923 – October 13, 2002) was an American character actor.

Early life

Curtis was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Polley Francella (née Holbrook), a teacher, and Ira Charles Curtis, a railway and civil-service employee.[1][2] He attended Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah,[3] then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served three years in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, he attended the University of Utah, where he earned a bachelor's degree.[4][5] In 1943, he was recognized by the Theta Alpha Phi national honorary dramatic society as the university's outstanding actor.[6]


Curtis made his film debut in Orson Welles' 1948 adaptation of Macbeth.[4] His additional film credits include American Hot Wax, Rabbit Test, The Buddy System, I.Q., Heaven Can Wait, Sliver and Richie Rich's Christmas Wish.[7]


Curtis' theatrical career began as a in 1949 as an assistant stage manager for the Martha Graham Dance Company before working on Broadway productions.[4] His first appearance as a performer was in a 1965 revival of You Can't Take It with You. In 1971, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for The Rothschilds. His additional Broadway credits include The Cherry Orchard, A Patriot for Me, Via Galactica, Annie, Night Watch and La Cage aux Folles.[8][9] He was a member of the Stratford Festival of Canada acting company in 1981, playing Sir George Thunder in Wild Oats.[10]


Curtis played a recurring role as John Allen Hill, the owner of Melville's Restaurant on Cheers, and as a wealthy banker on the short-lived Bea Arthur vehicle Amanda's. His many television credits include The Magician as quirky columnist Max Pomeroy opposite Bill Bixby, Gypsy starring Bette Midler and two appearances on Three's Company.


For the animated series SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, Curtis voiced the character of the Pastmaster. He also provided the voice of Grand Moff Tarkin for the radio adaptation of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as well as that of Lord Balthazar on The Smurfs from 1981 to 1989.[7]

Curtis also lent his voice to cartoon shows including The Little Mermaid, The Dukes, The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, Trollkins, The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda, The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible, Denver, the Last Dinosaur, The Snorks, The Jetsons, Space Stars, Adventures from the Book of Virtues, The Herculoids, Fantastic Max, Paddington Bear, The Centurions, Kissyfur, Mother Goose and Grimm, The Hot Rod Dogs and Cool Car Cats and Bonkers.[7]


Curtis, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[11] died from complications from Alzheimer's disease at a Bountiful, Utah nursing home at the age of 79 and was buried at Bountiful Memorial Park.[8] Curtis never married and had no children.


  1. ^ "Obituary: Keene Holbrook Curtis". Deseret News. October 17, 2002. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  2. ^ Keene Curtis Biography (1923-2002). Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  3. ^ "North Emery High School Wins First Place in B.Y.U. Dramatic Contest". Emery County Progress. Castle Dale, Utah. April 12, 1940. p. 1. Retrieved August 21, 2018 – via
  4. ^ a b c McLellan, Dennis. "Keene Curtis, 79; Stage Actor Famed for Role in 'Cheers'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  5. ^ "'U' Freshmen Rehearse Class Presentation". The Salt Lake Telegram. March 26, 1941. p. 26. Retrieved August 21, 2018 – via
  6. ^ "'U' Dramatists Wait Honors". The Salt Lake Telegram. June 3, 1943. p. 15. Retrieved August 21, 2018 – via
  7. ^ a b c Keene Curtis at IMDb
  8. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth (October 15, 2002). "Tony Award-Winning Actor Keene Curtis Dead at 79". Playbill. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  9. ^ Keene Curtis at the Internet Broadway Database
  10. ^ "Keene Curtis acting credits". Stratford Festival Archives. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
  11. ^ Abanes, Richard (July 1, 2009). Religions of the Stars: What Hollywood Believes and How It Affects You. Ada, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-4412-0445-5.