Today, it was reported that veteran actor Barry Dennen died this morning in Burbank, California where he was in hospice care after suffering a brain injury at his home back in June. He was arguably the man who launched Barbra Streisand's career by mentoring, coaching, selecting material and helping to mold all her earliest cabaret appearances when she was just starting out in New York City. The two had a mercurial relationship over the decades and he wrote an interesting book about their experiences. Dennen had then moved to London for fifteen years, where he originated the role of the Master of Ceremonies in the original West End production of Cabaret in 1968 opposite Judi Dench as Sally Bowles.
It was that production where he first caught the attention of a young composer at the time by the name of Andrew Lloyd Webber. That would lead to Dennen going on to originate the role of Pontius Pilate on the original concept album of Jesus Christ Superstar, which he got to reprise on Broadway in 1971.
In between the album's release and Broadway, Dennen got to play Mendel, the Rabbi's son in the 1971 film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof. It was during that making of that where Dennen approached filmmaker Norman Jewison about Jesus Christ Superstar.
Therefore, he along with Yvonne Elliman got to reprise their roles from the original concept album in the 1973 film adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar. As a fan of the rock opera, I don't necessarily think the film version holds up very well. Though nonetheless, Dennen at least got to have his overall performance as Pilate preserved for posterity.
Among his other film credits, he had small roles in 1980's The Shining, 1981's Ragtime, 1982's The Dark Crystal, 1983's Trading Places, and 1997's Titanic. My condolences go out to his family.