Roger Rees dead: West Wing and Cheers actor dies aged 71

The Welsh actor has died following a brief illness

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Tributes have been paid to the actor Roger Rees, who has died at the age of 71 following a brief illness.

The Tony award winning actor is best known for his roles on Cheers and The West Wing.

Born in Wales, Rees was originally an artist before turning to acting in the 1960s. He was painting a backdrop to a set at Wimbledon Theatre when he was asked to fill a part in a play.

He won Tony and Olivier Awards in 1982 for his performance in the lead role of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.


Rees is survived by his husband, the playwright Rick Elice, who he married in 2011.

Tributes to the actor have been made on social media. Choreographer Matthew Bourne wrote: “RIP Roger Rees- a lovely, generous & kind man & an heroic and passionate actor. We all fell in love with him in #NicholasNickleby. So sad.”

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Rees featured in the long-running Cheers as English tycoon Robin Colcord. In The West Wing, he played the erudite but dishevelled British diplomat Lord John Marbury.