Actor Tim O’Connor dies at age 90
Nevada County’s Tim O’Connor, 90, died on Thursday according to family members. Family members have indicated they will run an obituary in an upcoming issue of The Union. Here’s an article from last summer on O’Connor and his involvement with the Readers Theatre in Nevada City.
For a great story to be told you need a setting and a lead character.
Our setting is the Miners Foundry where the Readers Theatre takes place, and our lead character is the man responsible for directing and producing the show, Tim O’Connor.
O’Connor celebrated his 90th birthday on July 3, with a surprise party to commemorate the milestone. While the Readers Theatre was performed that night, and O’Connor was busy directing and managing the show, the entire cast and crew, as well as friends and family, helped throw the celebration in his honor.
As the show came to a close, the cast brought out a cake while the entire audience, filled with friends O’Connor hadn’t seen in ages, serenaded him with “Happy Birthday.”
He still hasn’t gotten over the sense of enthrallment from it all.
O’Connor grew up in Chicago, near Jackson Park. He said it wasn’t the best of neighborhoods, but he was particularly fond of the park.
“We had gangs and what not,” O’Connor said, “but that park probably saved my life.”
He talked of his childhood, and how he served the country for a time before starting law school. When he realized he didn’t want to practice law, he ran into a friend who was attending a radio drama school, and he jumped at the opportunity.
“I never thought being an actor could be such a great career,” he said. “It was always in the back of my mind, but never did I think it could be a real job.”
From that moment, a star had emerged.
Performing as a leading man, O’Connor’s career has taken him all across the country from New York to Los Angeles. His IMDB profile, which O’Connor says is not very accurate, is nonetheless impressive. He has appeared in some well-known TV shows (“Peyton Place,” “M*A*S*H,” “Barnaby Jones” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”), and many movies and plays. He has rubbed elbows with some of the most famous people in the arts — but you’d never know without asking.
O’Connor’s a man of few words, when it comes his accomplishments. He downplays his own experiences to focus on the talent he is proud of here in the community. It’s not about him. What’s important is keeping theatre alive, and entertaining the community.
He has been the driving force behind the Reader’s Theatre program for more than 25 years. The program takes place inside the Miners Foundry, a gold rush relic built in 1855 where equipment and tools of the trade were forged.
Each show consists of a few short stories that local actors perform on stage.
O’Connor holds the auditions, the rehearsals, and directs all the stories the actors portray.
The shows typically start around 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and run for about two hours.
“That way people can come in before they eat, watch a few plays then go out for a nice meal and have a martini,” said O’Connor.
It’s not only the Readers Theatre that O’Connor is passionate about. He said he loves the foothills of the Sierra, the beauty of it all — in both nature and the people who live here. The trees, the sense of a community, and the opportunity to enjoy all four seasons — which he missed while living in Southern California — has been what’s kept him here.
When O’Connor isn’t directing or producing the Readers Theatre, he’s doing aerobics at the South Yuba Club three times a week. He also does Tai Chi and Qigong most Saturdays at Pioneer Park, alongside longtime friend Dave Iorns, owner of Nevada City Crystal & Glass and a regular Readers Theatre performer.
“He’s just a good friend, a good guy, and good for the community,” Iorns said. “He’s always giving.”
Not only does O’Connor love the community, the community loves him back.
“Tim is one of the most humble and gracious men I have ever met,” said Gretchen Bond, executive director of the Miners Foundry.
“Tim is one of my favorite people,” Kat Kress, venue coordinator for Readers Theatre. “He is always in a great mood and never fails to brighten my day.”
Contact Prospector Editor Sean Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4219.
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