Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Patrick James Clarke Dead at 64

Patrick James Clarke
Former Ryan's Hope and Search for Tomorrow actor Patrick James Clarke died on July 31 in Sarasota, Florida, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 64.

Clarke grew up in the Bronx and Long Island, New York. He was a pre-law student at the University of Arizona when he began taking acting classes.

In the 1970s, Clarke studied at the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training in Sarasota.

He returned to New York City and began appearing in soap operas. For two years in the early 1980s, he played Dr. Patrick Ryan on Ryan's Hope during the height of ABC's soap opera popularity.

In a 2012 interview with the Herald-Tribune, Clarke described being spotted by soap opera fans in a bar.

"I felt like a prosciutto in the window of an Italian deli and somebody wanted to eat me," he remembered. "I couldn"t believe that television has that power over people."

After leaving Ryan's Hope, he played Jack Benton on NBC's Search for Tomorrow.

The cast of Ryan's Hope in 1982.
In 1987, Clarke appeared in a short-lived drama series, Leg Work, on CBS. His co-stars included As the World Turns alum Margaret Colin and future Oscar-winner Frances McDormand.

Sarasota actors, directors and theater fans remember him from fiery roles such as Col. Nathan Jessup in “A Few Good Men.”

“He’s probably the bravest actor I ever worked with,” said David Breitbarth, a company member at Asolo Rep. “His choices were always big and bold and honest. And he was just as fearless in life, too.”

In 16 years at Asolo Rep, Clarke performed in everything from "Deathtrap" to "Born Yesterday" and "The Merry Wives of Winsor."

Michael Donald Edwards, artistic director at Asolo Rep, remembers when Clarke first became ill. It was during rehearsals for "Glengarry Glen Ross" in 2013. Clarke couldn't go through with the show, but insisted upon remaining with the cast as an understudy.

"We had a special performance that was the last thing he did for us," Edwards said. "He blew the roof off the theater and everyone was so moved by him. A thrilling night. Very emotional. And a proper farewell for him."

Clarke is survived by his wife, Patricia.

Watch an episode of Ryan's Hope below from March 1982 featuring Clarke as Pat Ryan.

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