Frank Delvy

In memoriam

Frank Delvy in <i>HMS Pinafore</i>, 2006
Frank Delvy in HMS Pinafore, 2006

One of Austin's best-loved song-and-dance men has taken his final bow. Frank Delvy, who played leads and character roles in musicals from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Gilbert & Sullivan, died Sunday, Aug. 31, after an 18-month fight with cancer. He was 57. Delvy became a regular on local stages in the Eighties, one of those actors who seemed to jump from show to show to show, finishing up one at Capitol City Playhouse and almost immediately popping up in another at Hyde Park Theatre, then, as soon as that was over, surfacing in another at Zach Theatre. Those who knew him from his early days in town might have been surprised to see their bandmate in the Doak Snead Band and Dogs at Play and bud on the crew at the Armadillo World Headquarters (he tended bar, made popcorn, sold T-shirts), starring in I Do! I Do! and South Pacific. Though Delvy always cherished his 'Dillo days and the pals he made there, it was in the theatre community that he made his greatest impact: at Capitol City Playhouse, at Hyde Park Theatre during Ken Johnson's tenure, with The Dowser Dan Show (a city of Austin-sponsored revue that teaches first through fourth-graders about water conservation), and, starting in 1983, with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin. With the group's staging of The Gondoliers that year, Delvy found an artistic home that lasted 25 years. He appeared in many, if not most, of the G&S shows since that time, his superbly rounded baritone and honed comedic chops well-suited to the satiric operettas, and he would have been in this summer's revival of The Pirates of Penzance (as that very model of a modern major-general, Major-General Stanley) if not for the return of the cancer, which led to the removal of his left kidney the year before. However, despite his failing health, Delvy managed a farewell performance last month when his wife and friends at the G&S Society hosted a party in his honor. (Actually, Delvy requested a funeral that he could enjoy while he was still around.) Some 200 people showed up at Seton Medical Center to see City Council Member Lee Leffingwell present Delvy with the city of Austin proclamation naming Aug. 2 Frank Delvy Day, hear a poem written in Delvy's honor by emcee Gary Hallock, share stories about their friend and fellow performer, and marvel as Delvy himself, from a wheelchair, sang duets with Janette Jones, with whom he'd performed many times over the past two decades. (Videos of the event are available on the G&S website: It was a great way for Delvy to receive one more round of applause and for so many of his loved ones to tell him how much they appreciated his artistry, his generosity, and his great friendship. He will be deeply missed.

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