James Mitchell Lear, 80, an actor and writer who performed his critically acclaimed one-man play about Ernest Hemingway around the world for 20 years, died of undisclosed causes July 14 in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
An alumnus of the Goodman Theater in Chicago and the Pasadena Playhouse, Lear appeared in more than 40 films, including “Reflections in a Golden Eye” and “Splendor in the Grass.” His credits also include more than 100 stage productions, 150 TV shows and numerous television commercials.
Lear’s snow-white, Hemingway-esque beard led to his being asked to appear as the spirit of Hemingway in a photo essay on the author’s Key West home in Town & Country magazine. Encouraged to do more with his likeness, he began researching the author’s life and wrote “Hemingway Reminisces.” He performed the play, which debuted in 1983, more than a thousand times.
A native of St. Paul, Minn., Lear grew up in Chicago and served as a paratrooper in North Africa and Italy during World War II.