Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jack Belt | 1929-2011

Jack Belt, USF theater professor and actor, dies

TEMPLE TERRACE — Academia was not Jack Belt's first career choice or even his second. He was in his mid 30s before he took his first teaching position.

That first teaching job turned out to be the last job he ever had. For nearly 40 years, Mr. Belt was one of the most popular and most highly respected members of the faculty of the University of South Florida's theater department.

Mr. Belt passed away Sunday (Nov. 6, 2011). He had a heart attack in July and never recovered. He was 82.

Acting was his first love. He had earned degrees in theater from Rollins College and Yale University. As a young man, he worked as an actor in New York City. It was there that he met his wife, Carol, also an actor.

But in the mid 1950s, Mr. Belt changed careers. He became a lawyer and in Tampa had his own firm, Frecker and Belt. He later switched careers again and became president of J. Watson Belt Development Co., a Tampa land development and home building company that his father had started.

But the stage beckoned. After working toward a doctorate in theater at the University of Texas, he came to USF as a teacher.

"I think he did that mostly so he'd have a way to make a living while he was acting," said his son Christopher.

Throughout his career at USF, Mr. Belt was constantly in demand as an actor in productions at the University and on Tampa's professional stages. He was known for a commanding stage presence and an impressive and evocative speaking voice.

"He was a fine actor," said Denis Calandra, his colleague at USF for nearly 30 years. "And, something that's not common in this business, he was very modest."

His roles ranged from Officer Krupke in West Side Story to Weller Martin in The Gin Game, in which he appeared with his wife. In one of his most memorable roles, he combined two of his careers by playing Clarence Darrow in a one-man show about the legendary lawyer.

"As an actor, his discipline and his attention to detail were phenomenal," Calandra said.

As a faculty member, Mr. Belt was popular with both his students and his colleagues at USF.

"He could teach a freshman class like voice and body improvisation to non-majors and have them come out with a buzz of excitement about the creative process," Calandra said. "Or he could teach advanced students."

Calandra recalled that when the theater department took on controversial productions that might have led to negative reactions from the USF bureaucracy or the wider community, Mr. Belt could always be counted on to work on the productions and help fight the political battles that sometimes ensued.

Mr. Belt and his family lived in Temple Terrace from the time he came to USF in 1966. His wife passed away 17 years ago.

"He wasn't one to wear his heart on his sleeve," said his daughter Jennifer. "But if you knew him, you could tell how much he missed her."

Mr. Belt is one in a string of prominent members of the Tampa theater community who have passed away in recent months. Others include playwright Aubrey Hampton, actor-teacher Aniko Farrell, director Mark Hunter and actor Paul Massie, who was a USF colleague and a close friend of Mr. Belt.

Marty Clear writes life stories about area residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at mclear@tampabay.rr.com.

Jack Belt, USF theater professor and actor, dies 11/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.