Peter White, ‘Boys in the Band’ and ‘All My Children’ Actor, Dies at 86

Peter White, who portrayed Linc Tyler on the ABC soap opera All My Children over four decades and starred in the original stage production and film adaptation of The Boys in the Band, has died. He was 86.

White died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles of melanoma, his All My Children castmate Kathleen Noone (Ellen Shepherd Dalton on the show) told The Hollywood Reporter.

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White also played Arthur Cates, the attorney for Sable Colby (Stephanie Beacham), on the first two seasons of the ABC primetime soap The Colbys in 1985-86, and he recurred as the deceased doctor dad of the characters played by Swoosie Kurtz, Sela Ward, Patricia Kalember and Julianne Phillips on the 1991-96 NBC drama Sisters.

White first portrayed Lincoln Tyler, son of stern Pine Valley matriarch Phoebe Tyler (Ruth Warrick), from 1974-80 — he was the third actor in the role, starting with James Karen — then returned for stints in ’81, ’84, ’86, ‘95 and 2005.

White starred as Alan McCarthy in Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band, which opened off-Broadway at Theater Four in April 1968. The drama revolves around a group of gay men attending a birthday party in a Manhattan apartment for their friend Harold (Leonard Frey), though it’s left unclear whether Alan was/is gay.

Until then, most gay characters in American theater had been veiled or demonized.

“Opening night, none of us knew what we had,” White recalled in a 2008 interview. “We all just thought, ‘It’s a play, it’s something new, it’s different and it’s good.’ It was a 100 percent gay audience — and then the next day, it went crazy!

“We got a call to come to the theater early, because there was such a crowd around the theater, you couldn’t get near it. Everyone at the time wanted to call it a gay play — [I always thought] it wasn’t [so much] a gay play [as] it was a play with gay characters.”

When Crowley produced and adapted his drama for the landmark 1970 film that was directed by William Friedkin and released through National General Pictures, White and his co-stars came along for the ride.

Born in New York City on Oct. 10, 1937, White started out on soaps by playing Jerry Ames on CBS’ The Secret Storm in 1965-66, then guest-starred on an episode of N.Y.P.D. in 1968.

He was working alongside Myrna Loy in a touring production of Barefoot in the Park when he was offered the Boys in the Band opportunity.

“Things were sort of really moving for me; I was doing so well, and I thought, ‘I don’t need this kind of risk,’” he recalled. “I talked to Myrna — she became my mentor — and she said, ‘Peter, if you are going to be an actor, you are going to have to take some risks in your life.’”

The play would run for more than 1,000 performances.

White returned to the soap world in 1971 with a turn as Dr. Sanford Hiller on CBS’ Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, and he also appeared in the Robert Mulligan-directed film The Pursuit of Happiness that year.

He made it to Broadway in 1975 in P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, though that play lasted just 16 performances.

White guest-starred on dozens of TV shows over the years, from Cannon, Hill Street Blues, The Jeffersons, Dynasty and Knots Landing to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Mad About You, The X-Files, The West Wing and Cold Case.

His film résumé also included Dave (1993), Mother (1996), Flubber (1997), Armageddon (1998), Thirteen Days (2000) and First Daughter (2004). In recent years, he served as an acting coach for those preparing to audition.

Noone said White was not married and had no children. His death was first reported by the SoapHub website.

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