Thursday, November 20, 2008

Former ATWT and LOVING Actor Keith Pruitt Dead At 47

The worlds of classical music and film & television are mourning the tragic death of our good friend And partying pal composer and actor Keith Douglas Pruitt who was found dead in his Greenwich Village apartment on Wednesday, November 12, 2008.

Police responding to pleas from his family entered the apartment to find him on a living room sofa. Initial autopsy reports indicate that he choked to death. He had been treated for esophageal problems stemming from a home fire in which he was badly injured last year. Further results are still pending.

The Kansas City born Pruitt was something of an anomaly in the world of classical music as he supported his composing career by acting in film and soap operas such as AS THE WORLD TURNS (as Julie's ex-husband, Frank Wendall) and LOVING (as Flynn Reilly) and GUIDING LIGHT (as Robinson).

The son of inventor/engineer Norman Wallace Pruitt and Emma Jean Thompson Pruitt, he was raised in Annandale, Virginia, and graduated from Falls Church School as valedictorian and was drum major for the school’s award winning band. He attended Duke University as the recipient of the A.J. Fletcher Scholarship for Piano. He was winner of the Duke University Concerto Competition and graduated summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Continue reading Pruitt's story...

He received a fellowship to attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a full scholarship to the City University of New York Ph.D. Program where he studied with Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Del Tredici.

Pruitt’s compositions have been commissioned and premiered by the Florida Philharmonic, the San Jose Symphony, the New York City Ballet, Pascal Rioult Dance Company, the Guggenheim Museum‘s “Works in Process” series, the Cowles Charitable Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the New York Chamber Ensemble and the Cape May Festival Orchestra.

His work on the soaps allowed him to introduce his music to a wide television audience. It was during his stint on LOVING that he and a male companion, Jacques Rosas, holding hands on a Greenwich Village street, were savagely beaten by a trio of young men who shouted anti-gay epithets as they beat the pair with golf clubs. Pruitt and his partner would not agree to sweep the matter under the shroud of corporate communications, and participated fully in the prosecution of the men which resulted in their being convicted and sent to prison. Since that time the openly gay artist became very involved in anti-violence projects.

He was also featured in the John Waters’ movie Hairspray, playing the lead singer of a rock band and as the lead in Carlo Nero’s film, Larry’s Visit.

Several years ago, he founded the Keith Pruitt Piano Studio where he taught gifted young New York area students both performance and composition.

Pruitt is survived by his mother, Jean Pruitt and sister Melanie Pruitt of Annandale, Virginia, a brother Steve Pruitt and nephew Craig Pruitt both of Buffalo, New York.

A Celebration of his life hosted by his friends Jacques Rosas, Edward Callaghan, Charles Hamlen, James Edstrom and John Wegorzewski will take place at Shop Studios in New York, tonight at 6pm. In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations in his memory be made to Classical Action, Performing Arts Against AIDS, 165 West 46th Street, Suite 1310, New York, New York 10036.


  1. It is so said about Keith. Back when I was a teenager dealing with my sexuality, I was stunned to realize he was gay. When he stood up to his attackers, it just made me all the more proud of the man. When I lived in New York I always thought I would run into him and have a chance to show the respect I had for him. RIP Keith