It was recently reported that actor Peter Donat passed away on Monday at his home in Point Reyes Station, California, due to complications from diabetes, as The New York Times documented. Peter Donat was born in Kentville, Canada, on January 20, 1928. The Canadian-American actor was inspired to get into acting by his uncle, British movie star Robert Donat. Robert won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the 1939 film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Peter studied theater at the Yale School of Drama in the early ’50s, and soon thereafter, the talented actor started performing onstage in the United States and Canada.
Donat landed his first Broadway role in 1957 after he spotted famed British director Tyrone Guthrie and producer Alexander Cohen walking in the theater district in Manhattan. In a 1985 interview with the Southam News, Peter revealed what he told the director, as The New York Times documented.
“On the spur of the moment, I dashed across 45th Street and confronted them. I said: Dr. Guthrie, I’m Peter Donat. My uncle was Robert Donat and I’d like to audition for your play.”
That bold move paid off for the talented actor, as Tyrone Guthrie cast Peter Donat as Prince Leopold in The First Gentleman. Critics praised Donat’s performance as Leopold, and the actor won a Theater World Award for Best Supporting Actor. In late 1957, the actor appeared in another Broadway production, The Entertainer, where he joined Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright onstage.
— Stella Adler Studio (@StellaAdlerNY) November 20, 2015
Peter Donat had a successful career as a television and movie actor as well. He appeared in numerous hit television shows and films, including Murder, She Wrote, The Game, The War of the Roses, Simon & Simon, Hill Street Blues, Hart to Hart, The Godfather Part 2, and he is perhaps most known for portraying Fox Mulder’s father on The X-Files. David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) recently took to Twitter to pay his respects.
Peter had an easy gravitas as a performer and seemed to come from that generation that took the art seriously but not too seriously. It was an honor to know him and work with him. pic.twitter.com/ZsmXeqZm6e
— David Duchovny (@davidduchovny) September 15, 2018
While he found great success on the big and small screens, Donat’s passion was performing on the stage. In a 1984 interview with The Honolulu Advertiser, Peter revealed what he loved about performing in theater, as The New York Times reported.
“It’s the closest thing to the ideal creative life. I mean, how often can an actor do Shakespeare, Chekhov and a new play, all in an eight-month span? And do TV shows and film in between?”
RIP Peter Donat (1928-2018), 90. Veteran TV & film actor. TV sci-fi credits include: The Invisible Man (1975), Future Cop (1977), Salvage 1 (1979), Meteor (1979), Voyagers! (1982), Time Trax (1993-94), The Outer Limits (1996), The X-Files (1995-99; as William Mulder). #PeterDonat pic.twitter.com/iPK8DCApyA
— James A. Conrad (@James_A_Conrad) September 15, 2018
Peter Donat is survived by his wife, Maria, with whom he wrote a one-man show about Chekhov which was performed Donat. In addition to his wife, Peter Donat is survived by his sons, Caleb, Christopher, and Lucas; a stepson, Malcolm Park; two stepdaughters, Marina Park Sutton and Barbara Park Shapiro; 11 grandchildren, and his brother, Richard, who is also an actor.