NEW YORK — Donnelly Rhodes, a Canadian-born character actor best remembered by US television audiences for playing an escaped convict on the sitcom “Soap” and a brusque doctor on the recent reboot of “Battlestar Galactica,” died Jan. 8 of cancer at a hospice facility near his home in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. He was 81.
Mr. Rhodes’s television career began with westerns like “Maverick” and “Bonanza” in the early 1960s and continued until 2016. Over the decades he appeared in practically every televised genre, from sitcoms to soap operas.
His experience on the daytime drama “The Young and the Restless” in the mid-1970s may have prepared him for the plot twists and surprises of the soap-opera spoof “Soap”; beginning in 1978, during the show’s second season, he played Dutch Leitner, a dimwitted criminal who helped Chester Tate, the philandering head of the wealthy Tate family, escape from prison.
Dutch then hid out at the Tate mansion and later wooed and eventually married Chester’s daughter, Eunice.
Mr. Rhodes’s most notable film role was in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969), in which he threatens the Sundance Kid, played by Robert Redford. Butch Cassidy, played by Paul Newman, calms the situation, and as the Kid walks away he whirls around and shoots off Mr. Rhodes’s gun belt.
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