Jonathan Miller, 1934-2019

Polymath Jonathan Miller has died. Physician, comedian, actor, director for stage, television, and opera, public intellectual, friend of such diverse individuals as Susan Sontag and Oliver Sacks. Variety writes of him:

After first studying medicine and qualifying as a doctor, the London-born Miller broke into the arts with Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. Miller appeared alongside Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett in the revue, which played in the West End and on Broadway.

He was a well-known face on TV in the U.K. and worked in front of and behind the camera, with numerous programs to his credit. These include six of the BBC’s Shakespeare productions, and several documentaries that he wrote and presented for the pubcaster. His later-career TV work included “Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief” for the BBC. He also appeared on U.S. television, notably on PBS.

I first became aware of him through the recording of Beyond the Fringe a groundbreaking satirical comedy review produced both in London and New York in the 1960s. I must have listened to the record dozens of times. I still quote it. Later in life he directed revolutionary and influential productions of Rigoletto, Traviata, and Cosi Fan Tutte.

There are few such minds and the loss of any one of them is almost more than can be borne.

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