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Len Cariou
Cariou in September 2009
Leonard Joseph Cariou

(1939-09-30) September 30, 1939 (age 84)
Alma materSt. Paul's College
Heather Summerhayes
(m. 1985)
AwardsTony Award for Best Actor in a Musical
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Leonard Joseph Cariou OC OM (/ˈkæriu/; born September 30, 1939) is a Canadian stage actor, singer and stage director. He gained prominence for his portrayal of Sweeney Todd in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979) alongside Angela Lansbury for which he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He also received Tony nominations for his roles in the Betty Comden and Adolph Green musical Applause (1970), and the Sondheim musical A Little Night Music (1973).

He is also known for his film roles in A Little Night Music (1977), The Four Seasons (1981), Thirteen Days (2000), About Schmidt (2002), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Prisoners (2013), and Spotlight (2015). He portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt in the HBO film Into the Storm (2009) for which he received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He also is known for his recurring television roles in Murder, She Wrote (1985-1992), Brotherhood (2005-2006), and Damages (2010). Since 2010, he has starred as the patriarch Henry Reagan, NYPD Police Commissioner (retired), in the multi-generational CBS series Blue Bloods.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Sweeney Todd Original 1979 Broadway Musical Commercial
  • Sweeney Todd - Broadway - Len Cariou & Angela Lansbury (full show) 1979
  • Len Cariou - A Little Night Music/Sweeney Todd Medley
  • Len Cariou - "Pretty Women"
  • Len Cariou reveals stories & mishaps from Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Applause & more


Early life and education

Leonard Joseph Cariou was born on September 30, 1939, in Saint Boniface, Manitoba.[1][2] Cariou's father was Breton and his mother was of Irish descent.[3] Cariou attended Miles Macdonell Collegiate for grades 10 and 11, where he directed and starred in the school plays, and he later attended St Paul's College.[4]



Cariou made his first appearance in Damn Yankees at Rainbow Stage in Winnipeg in 1959, and was a founding member of the Manitoba Theatre Centre.[5] He was offered a scholarship at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal but, married with a young child and financial responsibilities, he was forced to decline the honor. Instead, he learned his craft by spending two years at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, and returned in 1981 to lead the company as Prospero, Coriolanus, Brutus, and Petruchio.[citation needed]

Cariou also became a lead actor at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis in the 1960s, where he played Orlando in As You Like It; Agamemnon in Tyrone Guthrie's compilation of The House of Atreus; Iago; Oberon; and the title roles in Henry V, Oedipus the King, and King Lear. He also was an associate director.In 1968, Cariou made his Broadway debut in The House of Atreus. Two years later, Cariou landed his first starring role opposite Lauren Bacall in Applause, a musical adaptation of the film All About Eve. It earned him a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical and won him the Theatre World Award.

In 1973, he received his second Tony nomination for A Little Night Music; he reprised the role of Fredrik for the 1977 film version opposite Elizabeth Taylor. Six years later he won both the Tony and Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in the Stephen Sondheim musical opposite Angela Lansbury. Cariou's early film credits include One Man (1977), and the 1977 Harold Prince-directed screen adaptation of A Little Night Music with Elizabeth Taylor.


In 1981 Cariou starred in the Alan Alda directed comedy-drama The Four Seasons alongside Carol Burnett, Rita Moreno, and Sandy Dennis. During these years, Cariou also appeared in a number of benefits, including A Christmas Carol for the Riverside Shakespeare Company in New York, playing Scrooge, with Helen Hayes, Raul Julia, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, directed by W. Stuart McDowell at the Symphony Space in 1985.[6] His next projects included the Alan Jay LernerCharles Strouse musical Dance a Little Closer (1983), Arthur Miller's sole musical, Up from Paradise (1983), Teddy & Alice (1987), and Ziegfeld (1988).

Regionally, Cariou has starred in many productions at theatres throughout North America, including The Kennedy Centre, the Mark Taper Forum, Lincoln Centre, the Long Wharf Theatre and the Old Globe. He has played the title role of Macbeth for Toronto Arts Productions, and Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon for Canadian Stage in Toronto. He has appeared multiple times throughout his career at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. In 1984, having directed "Death of a Salesman" at the Citadel Theater, Edmonton, he played the lead in "King Lear" and was appointed associate director. In 1985 he played Stalin there in David Pownall's "Master Class". Cariou appeared at The Geffen Theatre as Joe Keller in a notable production of All My Sons, a role he reprised in 2009 at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, where it was the longest-running, highest-grossing run of a play in that theatre's history. He also appeared at The Geffen in Neil Simon's Rose and Walsh and Heroes with George Segal.

From 1985 to 1992, Cariou appeared in multiple episodes of the popular television mystery series Murder, She Wrote with his friend and former Sweeney Todd co-star Angela Lansbury. Cariou portrayed the recurring character of Michael Hagarty, characterized as an Irish international man of mystery who worked as a secret agent for British MI-6. He would get Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), the title character of the show, involved in mysteries involving international intrigue.

Cariou also appeared on Broadway in Night Watch, Cold Storage, The Speed of Darkness, Neil Simon's The Dinner Party (with Henry Winkler and John Ritter) and Proof (with Anne Heche and Neil Patrick Harris). He directed Don't Call Back on Broadway as well. His off-Broadway appearances include Master Class, Papa (an Ernest Hemingway one-man show) and Mountain (Justice William O. Douglas). He appeared as Cap'n Andy in the Broadway national tour of Show Boat opposite Cloris Leachman.

Cariou narrated Major League Baseball's World Series films from 1992 to 1997. In addition, he was the narrator of "An Amazin' Era", a video commemorating the 25th anniversary of the New York Mets franchise.[citation needed] He narrated both the original 1986 version and an update that was produced in 1989. He has recorded a number of books, including several by Michael Connelly, for audiotape release. He also narrated the 1989 Academy Award-winning documentary The Johnstown Flood.

In 1993, Cariou was in the TV movie Miracle on Interstate 880. He played Buck Helm. He also guest-starred in an episode of North of 60 when he portrayed Sarah Birkett's estranged father. In 1995, Cariou became the first actor to portray Walt Disney in the Annette Funicello biography A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, based on her book of the same name. In 1997, Cariou appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Coda". He appeared to Captain Kathryn Janeway as an alien disguised as Admiral Janeway, her deceased father.


During the 2000s he acted in Thirteen Days (2000), About Schmidt (2002), Secret Window (2004) in which he starred alongside Johnny Depp, who would later go on to play Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the Tim Burton-directed musical based on the Broadway show in which Cariou starred. He acted in Boynton Beach Club (2005), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), and played the father in the 2007 film 1408, and the nominal lead role in The Onion Movie, based on the satirical newspaper. In 2009, Cariou portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt in the HBO movie Into the Storm, earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.

In 2010, Cariou appeared as Madoff-like Ponzi scheme man Louis Tobin in the drama Damages, the main antagonist in season three. Cariou has appeared in episodes of The West Wing, Law & Order, The Practice, and The Outer Limits. He had a continuing role in 2006–2007 as power broker Judd Fitzgerald in the series Brotherhood. He played an American naval officer in 2013's den Orolige Mannen (the Troubled Man), adapted from one of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels. In 2018 he starred alongside Bruce Willis in Death Wish as Dr. Paul Kersey's father-in-law. He currently appears as Henry Reagan, the former New York City Police Commissioner and patriarch of the current commissioner's family on Blue Bloods.

More recently, Cariou portrayed Cardinal Law in Spotlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2015.[citation needed] He also starred in the short play Happy Birthday, Mr. Abernathy by Lloyd Suh for a public radio show and podcast, Playing On Air.[7]

Personal life

Cariou has been married to author Heather Summerhayes since October 25, 1985.[8] Before his marriage, he had relationships with actresses Glenn Close and Lauren Bacall.[9]


As actor

Year Title Role Theatre
1959 Damn Yankees Ensemble member Rainbow Stage
1961 The Threepenny Opera Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
Mister Roberts
1962 Macbeth Ensemble member Stratford Festival
The Tempest Various
Cyrano de Bergerac Ensemble member
The Taming of the Shrew Groom / Walter Sugarsop
1963 Troilus and Cressida Margarelon
The Comedy of Errors Ensemble member
Timon of Athens Servilius
Cyrano de Bergerac Ensemble member
1964 Love's Labour's Lost Longaville Chichester Festival Theatre
1964 Richard II Sir John Bushy Stratford Festival
The Country Wife Ensemble member
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme Cléonte
1966 As You Like It Orlando de Boys Guthrie Theater
The Skin of Our Teeth
S.S. Glencairn
1968 The House of Atreus Orestes
Twelfth Night Feste
Serjeant Musgrave's Dance Serjeant "Black Jack" Musgrave
1969 Othello Iago Goodman Theatre
Much Ado About Nothing American Shakespeare Theatre
Three Sisters
1969 Henry V King Henry V ANTA Theatre
1970–1972 Applause Bill Sampson Palace Theatre
1971 Cyrano de Bergerac Christian de Neuvillette Guthrie Theater
The Taming of the Shrew
1972 Night Watch John Wheeler Morosco Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream Oberon Guthrie Theater
1973 Oedipus Rex Oedipus
Sondheim: A Celebration Various Shubert Theatre
1973–1974 A Little Night Music Fredrik Egerman Majestic Theatre
Shubert Theatre
1974 King Lear King Lear Guthrie Theater
1975 Equus Dr. Martin Dysart Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
Cyrano de Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac
1977 A Sorrow Beyond Dreams The Writer Marymount Manhattan Theatre
Cold Storage Richard Landau Lyceum Theatre
1979–1980 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Sweeney Todd Gershwin Theatre
1981 Coriolanus Caius Marcius Coriolanus Stratford Festival
The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio
1982 Julius Caesar Marcus Brutus
The Tempest Prospero
1981–1983 Up from Paradise God Jewish Repertory Theater
1983 Dance a Little Closer Harry Aikens Minskoff Theatre
1983–1984 King Lear King Lear Citadel Theatre
1984–1985 Coriolanus Caius Marcius Coriolanus Stratford Festival
The Taming of the Shrew Petruchio
Arms and the Man Sergius Saranoff
The Tempest Prospero
Julius Caesar Marcus Brutus
The Tempest Prospero
1985 Traveler in the Dark Sam Mark Taper Forum
1985–1986 Master Class Joseph Stalin Citadel Theatre
1986 Master Class Joseph Stalin Union Square Theatre
1987 Teddy & Alice President Theodore Roosevelt Minskoff Theatre
1988 Ziegfeld Florenz Ziegfeld London Palladium
1989 Measure for Measure Vincentio Vivian Beaumont Theater
The Anastasia Game Gen. Alexei Bounine Merrimack Repertory Theatre
1990–1993 Mountain William O'Douglass Ford's Theatre
Plays and Players Theatre
1991 The Speed of Darkness Joe Belasco Theatre
1992 A Touch of the Poet Cornelius Melody Long Wharf Theatre
1996 Papa Ernest Hemingway Douglas Fairbanks Theater
1996–1998 Show Boat Cap'n Andy Tour
1998 Paramour General St. Pe Old Globe Theatre
2000 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Sweeney Todd Royal Festival Hall
2000–2001 The Dinner Party Andre Bouville Mark Taper Forum
2001–2002 Copenhagen Niels Bohr National tour
2002 Funny Girl Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. New Amsterdam Theatre
2002–2003 Proof Robert Walter Kerr Theatre
2003 No Strings Louis de Pourtal New York City Center
Rose and Walsh Walsh Geffen Playhouse
The Persians Darius the Great National Actors Theatre
Follies Benjamin Stone John Hancock Hall
2004 Kismet Hajj Reprise Theatre Company
2006 All My Sons Joe Keller Geffen Playhouse
2007 Heroes Henri
2008 Frost/Nixon President Richard Nixon Canadian Stage Company
2009 Broadway Backwards 4 Various Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
2010 Brigadoon Mr. Lundie Irish Repertory Theatre
Broadway Backwards 5 Various Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
2011 Broadway Backwards 6 Various
2014 Guys and Dolls Arvide Abernathy Carnegie Hall
2016–2019 Broadway and the Bard Himself

Lion Theatre, NYC

US and Canada National Tour
2019 Harry Townsend's Last Stand Harry Townsend New York City Center

As director

Year Title Theatre
1972 Of Mice and Men Guthrie Theater
1974 The Petrified Forest
The Crucible
1979 Don't Call Back
1984 Death of a Salesman
1985 Cold Storage



Year Title Role
1977 One Man Jason Brady
A Little Night Music Fredrik Egerman
1978 Drying Up the Streets Larry
1981 The Four Seasons Nick Callan
1988 Lady in White Phil Terragrossa
1994 Getting In Dr. Lionel Higgs / Dr. Ezekiel Higgs
1995 Never Talk to Strangers Henry Taylor
1996 Executive Decision Secretary of Defense Charles White
2000 Thirteen Days Dean Acheson
2002 About Schmidt Ray Nichols
2004 Secret Window Sheriff Dave Newsome
2005 The Greatest Game Ever Played Stedman Comstock
Boynton Beach Club Jack
2006 Flags of Our Fathers Mr. Beech
2007 1408 Joe Enslin
2008 The Onion Movie Norm Archer
2013 Prisoners Father Patrick Dunn
2015 Spotlight Cardinal Bernard Law
2018 Death Wish Ben Gibbs
Bumblebee Hank


Year Title Role Notes
1963 Quest Unknown 1 episode
1964 Festival Ragnar 1 episode
1979 The Great Detective Tanner 1 episode
1981 Madame X John Abbott Television film
1985–1992 Murder, She Wrote Michael Hagarty / Monsignore O'Shaugnessy 7 episodes
1985 Surviving: A Family in Crisis David Brogan Television film
1989 The American Playwrights Theater: The One Acts Pat Sweeney 1 episode
1990 Gabriel's Fire Judge Norton Heller 1 episode
1991 Kurt Vonnegut's Monkey House Ambassador Kelly 1 episode
1992 The Ray Bradbury Theater Douglas 1 episode
Street Legal Christin Peveril 1 episode
1993 North of 60 Mike Birkett 1 episode
Class of '61 Dr. Leland Peyton Television film
The Sea Wolf Dr. Picard Television film
1993–2008 Law & Order Edgar Beezley / Mac Geller / Captain Allard Bunker 3 episodes
1994 Witness to the Execution Jake Tyler Television film
Love on The Run Noah Cross Television film
1995–2000 The Outer Limits Doc Wells / Father Anton Jonasceu 2 episodes
1996 Swift Justice Al Swift Main cast
13 episodes
The Summer of Ben Tyler Spencer Maitland Television film
1997 Star Trek: Voyager Admiral Edward Janeway 1 episode ("Coda")
F/X: The Series Charles Emery 1 episode
American Experience Narrator (voice) 1 episode
1998 Mentors Alexander Graham Bell 1 episode
1999 The Practice Defense Attorney Weiland 1 episode
In the Company of Spies The President Television film
2000 D.C. Senator William Abbott 1 episode
Nuremberg Francis Biddle Television film
The West Wing Pharmaceutical Executive 1 episode
2003 Ed Mr. Stuckey 1 episode
2004 Sex Traffic Magnus Herzoff Miniseries
2005 Numb3rs Alan Emrick 1 episode
2006–2007 Brotherhood Judd Fitzgerald Recurring role
10 episodes
2007 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Frank McCarty 1 episode
2008 Army Wives Randall Meade 1 episode
2009 Into the Storm Franklin D. Roosevelt Television film
Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice Narrator 9 episodes
2010 Damages Louis Tobin 5 episodes
2010–present Blue Bloods Henry Reagan Main role
2013 Wallander Atkins 1 episode
2019 When They See Us Robert Morgenthau Miniseries

Awards and nominations

On Broadway, Cariou has earned three Tony nominations for 'Best Actor in a Musical' in 1970 for Applause, in 1973 for A Little Night Music, and in 1979 for Sweeney Todd. He won the Tony for Best Performance By A Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in Sweeney Todd.[10]

In 2004, Cariou was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[11] In 2009, Cariou portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt in the HBO movie Into the Storm, earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. On June 23, 2012, Cariou was honored by having his name added to the Miles Macdonell Collegiate Alumni of Distinction, for his contribution to theater and arts. His introduction to the theater started with a starring role in the school production of The Pirates of Penzance. He holds the Order of Manitoba. He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) by the University of Windsor on 2 June 1984.[12] He received and Honorary Degree from the University of Winnipeg in 1992.[13]

On December 27, 2018, Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, announced that Cariou would be one of 103 recipients becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada for his achievements as an actor of stage and screen, and for his commitment to Canadian cultural institutions.[14] He was invested with the Insignia of the Order of Canada on 26 October 2023 by Governor General of Canada Mary Simon.[15] He also received the Canadian Version of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.[16]

Year Award Category Work Result
1970 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Applause Nominated
Theatre World Award Applause and King Henry V Honouree
1973 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical A Little Night Music Nominated
1977 Canadian Film Award Best Actor One Man Won
1979 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Sweeney Todd Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor In A Musical Won
1991 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Play Mountain Nominated
The Speed of Darkness Nominated
Gemini Award Best Actor in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Kurt Vonnegut's Monkey House Nominated
2002 Touring Broadway Awards Best Actor in a Play Copenhagen Won
2009 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Into the Storm Nominated
2019 Drama League Award[17] Distinguished Performance Harry Townsend's Last Stand Nominated


  1. ^ Fisher, James (2011). Historical Dictionary of Contemporary American Theater: 1930-2010. Scarecrow Press. p. 238. ISBN 9780810879508. Archived from the original on October 29, 2023. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  2. ^ Ohringer, Frederic (1979). A Portrait of the Theatre. Merritt Publishing Company. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-517-53928-6. Archived from the original on October 29, 2023. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  3. ^ "Frost/Nixon star reveals hot-blooded past". Toronto Star. October 4, 2008. Archived from the original on September 15, 2016. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  4. ^ "Len Cariou Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Lepage, Mark (December 7, 2010). "Winnipeg's Cariou takes pride in Manitoba Theatre Centre roots". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on November 24, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Celebrity Reading of 'A Christmas Carol'", The New York Times, November 23, 1985.
  7. ^ PlayingOnAir (December 8, 2014). "Len Cariou". Playing On Air. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  8. ^ "'Blue Bloods' Star Len Cariou Has Been Married to His Award-Winning Wife Heather for Over 35 Years". Yahoo!. August 6, 2021. Archived from the original on June 4, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  9. ^ "Len Cariou - Family & Companions". Archived from the original on October 29, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  10. ^ "Tony Awards 1979 / ACTOR (LEADING ROLE - MUSICAL)". The American Theater Wing's Tony Award®. Tony Award Productions. Archived from the original on December 24, 2022. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  11. ^ Rawson, Christopher (January 25, 2005). "Stage veterans receive praise at induction". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on July 12, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  12. ^ "University of Windsor Honorary Degrees" (PDF). The University of Windsor. December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  13. ^ "University of Winnipeg Honorary Degrees". The University of Winnipeg. December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  14. ^ "Governor General Announces 103 New Appointments to the Order of Canada | Markets Insider". Archived from the original on April 14, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  15. ^ "Len Cariou's Order of Canada Citation". The Governor General of Canada. December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  16. ^ "Len Cariou's Golden Jubilee Medal Citation". The Governor General of Canada. December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  17. ^ "Nominations Announced for 86th Annual Drama League Awards". Archived from the original on April 18, 2021. Retrieved April 18, 2021.

External links

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