Suave Irish-born actor with resonant voice and a commanding presence, who made his theatrical debut in ‘The First of Mrs.Fraser’ (1942) at the age of 19 at the Cork Opera House. Nine years later, after spells with the Gate Theatre in Dublin and the Liverpool Repertory Company, Mulhare appeared in a Laurence Olivier-directed London production of ‘Othello’ with Orson Welles. It was there, that he was spotted by Alan Jay Lerner and signed as an understudy to Rex Harrison for the part of Henry Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’. The play ran on Broadway from 1957 to 1962, totalling a massive 2,717 performances. Harrison dropped out of the part in December 1957, and Mulhare, a relative unknown in the U.S., took over the role. This sparked a controversy with Actor’s Equity over the hiring of foreign actors, which required a noted labour negotiator to resolve. In the end, Mulhare played Higgins to both audience approval and critical acclaim more than 1,000 times between 1957 and 1960. The play subsequently toured the Soviet Union, before returning to London. On Broadway, Mulhare also replaced Michael Rennie in the leading role of Dirk Winsten in ‘Mary,Mary’ and starred as Giacome Nerone in Dore Schary’s ‘The Devil’s Advocate’, alongside actors Leo Genn and Eduardo Ciannelli.
It was ironic, that Mulhare followed in Harrison’s footsteps on television as well, playing the part of Captain Daniel Gregg (Harrison’s in the 1947 movie), the titular spectre of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968). The popular NBC series updated the setting from turn of the century New England to present day, and, by comparison with its cinematic predecessor, was less sentimental, but wittier by some degree. There was an undeniable on-screen chemistry between co-star Hope Lange and Mulhare, who was Emmy-nominated for his portrayal as the cantankerous, but thoroughly charming captain. From 1982 to 1986, Mulhare also appeared on television as the articulate Devon Miles, David Hasselhoff’s boss, in the fantasy series Knight Rider (1982).
Surprisingly, Edward Mulhare never achieved star status on the big screen. Among the few films he made, one only remembers his dastardly villains of Our Man Flint (1966) and Caprice (1967). He did, however, continue to make frequent guest appearances on television in series ranging from The Streets of San Francisco (1972) to Battlestar Galactica (1978). In 1988, he also hosted a series about the paranormal, entitled Secrets and Mysteries (1983). Mulhare, a confirmed bachelor, died during filming of the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau comedy Out to Sea (1997) at the age of 74.
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