Emmy Award winning actor Michael Constantine proved himself to be an indispensable component of the Room 222 cast, where he flourished alongside actors like Lloyd Hanes, Denise Nicholas, and Karen Valentine. Sadly, decades after the beloved show ended, Michael Constantine’s life has drawn to its own close. At age 94, he’s finally lost his long battle with failing health, and is currently being mourned by friends, family, fellow actors, and longtime fans.
In the bold series Room 222, Michael Constantine played the role of Principal Seymour Kaufman at the fictional Walt Whitman High School. Most of the show takes place in Room 222, where an African American teacher named Pete Dixon teaches history to a diverse class of students. Pete Dixon (played by Lloyd Hanes) was the show’s leading man, but he was supported by three other main characters who were played by Michael Constantine, Denise Nicholas, and Karen Valentine. Together, these actors made up the faculty of Walt Whitman high school, located in California.
While some of the elements surrounding racial diversity in the show are considered inelegant and even stereotypical today, it was considered bold and progressive for its time. Despite the risk the cast and creators took, it was a huge hit in families across the US. When the show first aired on September 17th, 1969, it held a comfortable Wednesday time slot at 8:30. After winning three Emmys in 1970, however, the third season was scheduled in the primetime 9:00 slot on Friday evenings, proving just how much of a success the show truly was.
Room 222 aired on September 17th, 1969, and ran for five seasons and 113 episodes until its end on January 11th, 1974. Not only did it win the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding New Series, but two of the cast members also earned Emmys of their own! The truly remarkable cast poured their hearts and souls into the show, and it really paid off in the end. Not only did the show cover difficult topics like racism and inequality, but it also offered opportunities for black actors, who have historically been discriminated against when it comes to acting in the film and television industries. This beloved comedy and drama series will forever be remembered for its sensitivity towards difficult topics, progressive stance, and wholesome comedy.
Of course, the most memorable part of the show was its stellar cast, but unfortunately, since the show ended so long ago, many of those cast members have since passed away. In today’s video, we’re going to cover all of the Room 222 cast deaths, as well as take a look at some of the surviving members. Make sure you stick around, because we’re also going to dive deep into the life, death, and legacy of Michael Constantine.
The Death of Michael Constantine (Principal Seymour Kaufman)
Michael Constantine was known for his dry, witty humor when he played Principal Seymour Kaufman on Room 222. Not many people know, however, that Room 222 was actually his big break as an actor. He had been performing onstage for years, and even played one-off characters on several famous television shows, but it wasn’t until he landed the big role of Principal Seymour Kaufman that people really began to know who he was. Today, of course, he’s also famous for playing the role of Kostas “Gus” Portokalos in the hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
While he’s best known for Room 222 and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Michael Constantine also appeared in shows like The Twilight Zone, Hogan’s Heroes, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Favorite Martian, and The Fugitive. He was an accomplished actor with a special knack for bringing characters to life, and was often called on to portray larger than life characters in all sorts of shows and movies.
Sadly, however, he died on August 31st, 2021 after a long battle with old age and failing health. He died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by loved ones who wished him farewell on his final journey.
Ramon Bieri (Vice Principal Gil Casey)
Ramon Bieri played the role of Walt Whitman high school’s vice principal, Mr. Gil Casey. While his role in Room 222 wasn’t as memorable as the main cast, he starred in numerous television shows and films, such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, The Rockford Files, and countless others. He also played the lead role in the NBC sitcom Joe’s World. Overall, he was well known for playing gruff characters or hard boiled gangsters. His acting career spanned decades, until his final role as Jake in the television series Arli$$.
In 2001, however, he began battling cancer, and sadly died at age 71 on May 27th, 2001.
Denise Nicholas (Liz McIntyre) Is Still Alive!
Denise Nicholas played the role of Liz McIntyre, the guidance counselor at Walt Whitman high school, as well as the girlfriend of Pete Dixon. She was nominated for a total of three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress throughout the series. Her role in Room 222 was certainly one of her most memorable, but she was also well known for playing the role of Councilwoman Harriet DeLong in the hit series In the Heat of the Night.
However, she didn’t just find work as an actor; she also made important contributions to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. Her career spanned from 1968 to 2004, but she’s since retired to live a more quiet life.
The Death of Eve McVeagh (Madge Morano)
Eve McVeagh played the role of Madge Morano on Room 222, and was well known for working as a character actress on various other television shows throughout her career. She began her career as an actress in theatre, but later found work in film and television, as well. Furthermore, she worked as a radio host and coach for acting and voice.
After a long and prolific career, however, she sadly died at age 78 from cancer on December 10th, 1997.
Learning about the deaths of the Room 222 cast members can be heartbreaking, but perhaps none of them are quite as sad as the death of the show’s lead actor. Make sure you stick around until the very end, because we’re going to reveal how the star of the show, Lloyd Hanes, died at a tragically young age. And if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like this video, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!
Karen Valentine (Alice Johnson) Is Still Alive Today
Karen Valentine played the role of Alice Johnson, who began as a student teacher, but later became a full time staff member at Walt Whitman high school. Unlike many of the cast members of Room 222, however, Karen Valentine is still alive today! While her role as Alice Johnson is probably her most memorable, she actually had her own sitcom, called Karen, in 1975. She also played the lead role in two Disney films, Hot Lead and Cold Feet and The North Avenue Irregulars. She is 74 today, but decided to retire from acting in 2004.
Bruno Kirby (Herbie Constadine)
Bruno Kirby played the role of Herbie Constadine in Room 222, but he’s better known for his appearances in films like Good Morning, Vietnam, When Harry Met Sally…, and The Godfather Part II. Between the 1980s and 1990s he was a popular choice for random characters in a variety of television shows and films. Sadly, he died of leukemia in 2006 at age 57.
Patsy Garrett (Miss Hogarth)
Patsy Garrett played the role of the school secretary Miss Hogarth in Room 222, but she actually began her career in singing and radio when she was just seven years old! She also played the role of Mary Gruber in the Benji film series, and was the spokeswoman for Purina cat food for several years! She died in 2015 at the age of 93.
The Life and Death of Lloyd Hanes (Pete Dixon)
Pete Dixon played the history teacher Mr. Lloyd Hanes, who patiently taught high school students in Room 222. Haynes wasn’t always an actor, though. In fact, he served in the US Military from 1952 to 1964, then attended film school to pursue his passion for acting. Surprisingly, he had only appeared in three films, Madigan, Ice Station Zebra, and The Mad Room before he was asked to play the starring role in Room 222. Despite being relatively new to acting, he did an amazing job, and continued to act well after Room 222 ended. He appeared in a variety of other films and television shows, including The Greatest, The Green Hornet, The Fugitive, Star Trek, and Emergency!
Tragically, however, he was diagnosed with lung cancer when he was just 52 years old, and died later that year. His wife and his four year old daughter said a tearful goodbye, and he was laid to rest at Eternal Hills Memorial Park, located in Oceanside, California.
It’s hard to say goodbye to the cast members of such a beloved show. Were you more saddened to hear about the recent death of Michael Constantine, or the tragically young death of Lloyd Hanes? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!