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Charlie Robinson, versatile actor who played a court clerk on ‘Night Court,’ dies

Holding a coffee cup, Charlie Robinson smiles as he leans back in a chair with his legs crossed.
Charlie Robinson at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa in 2013.
(Los Angeles Times)

Charlie Robinson, the versatile and prolific actor whose credits ranged from stage productions to films to his long-running role as court clerk Mac Robinson in the sitcom “Night Court,” has died at age 75.

Robinson died Sunday at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to his manager, Lisa DiSante-Frank. The cause was linked to advanced cancer.

“Charlie Robinson, was the love of my life, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather,” his wife and fellow actor Dolorita Noonan-Robinson said in a statement.

“He was truly the working actor’s actor, and of all his passions, his craft took center stage, with his family being the wind beneath his wings, so he could soar to unbelievable heights! On behalf of my husband and family, I thank you for being a part of the audience.”

Charlie Robinson says playing Willy Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman’ at South Coast Repertory makes him ‘more thankful for the life I have.’

Robinson — who had roles in films including “Secret Santa” and “Miss Lettie and Me” and stage credits including “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Fences” — was a Houston native. In his teens, he sang with a local group that later became known nationally, Archie Bell and the Drells. His acting career started in the late 1960s when he joined the Houston-based school Studio 7.

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He made his film debut with a brief role in “Drive, He Said,” a 1971 release directed by Jack Nicholson, and worked steadily over the next 50 years. Besides “Night Court,” which ran from 1984 to 1992, he also appeared in the acclaimed but short-lived “Buffalo Bill”; “Home Improvement”; “The Game”; and “Hart of Dixie,” among other series.

Robinson performed regularly at both the Pasadena Playhouse and South Coast Repertory, where he earned rave reviews for his portrayal of Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman.”

Recent credits included the teleplay “Some Old Black Man” and the stage play “The Last Romance,” in which he appeared with Michael Learned.

In addition to his wife, Robinson is survived by four children, Charlie, Luca, Christian and Byron, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


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