Dennis Letts, Father of Tracy Letts, Dies at 73

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Dennis Letts was a retired professor and actor who made his Broadway debut this season in his son Tracy's acclaimed production of August: Osage County. Robert Siegel spoke to both father and son in late December on this program. Dennis Letts, who died Friday of cancer, was 73.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Two months ago on this program, we interviewed an actor playing a retired Oklahoma college professor. The character knows that he's dying of cancer. In late December, I asked Dennis Letts what it was like being in the Broadway play "August: Osage County," written by his son Tracy.

Mr. DENNIS LETTS (Actor): It's very interesting because, of course, I'm a retired college professor - as is the character. I'm just not the alcoholic, and I haven't disappeared, yet. So...

SIEGEL: On Friday, at age 73, Dennis Letts succumbed to the cancer that he learned he had only after he started in the role, and just after he learned the play was bound for Broadway. It had opened in Chicago. In "August: Osage County," Dennis Letts played the patriarch of a large, dysfunctional family, which was only marginally different, he told me, than the one he led in real life.

Mr. LETTS: I have presided over a small, dysfunctional family.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Of which Tracy is the product.

Mr. LETTS: Tracy is a part of it.

SIEGEL: Actor Dennis Letts last December. He died on Friday at age 73. He made his Broadway debut in "August; Osage County" in the production that won rave reviews last year.

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