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Versatile actor Julia dies

Raul Julia, the darkly handsome actor who starred with equal aplomb as Othello on stage and lusty Gomez Addams in The Addams Family movies, died Monday of complications from a stroke. He was 54.

The Puerto Rican-born star died at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, on Long Island, where he had been admitted after suffering a stroke last week. He will be given a state funeral in Puerto Rico on Thursday.

He played a tormented South American political prisoner befriended by a gay man _ William Hurt, in his Oscar-winning performance _ in the 1985 movie Kiss of the Spider Woman. He also played opposite Anjelica Huston as the libidinous Gomez in The Addams Family in 1991 and its 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful person, one of the greats," Huston said from Los Angeles. "It's an absolute heartbreaking loss."

He was known for a commanding presence, a thoughtful manner, a strong, resonant voice and a grandly theatrical, physical style.

Mr. Julia had credited Errol Flynn's Robin Hood with inspiring him to seek an acting career. "It was one of the first movies I saw, and I decided that was the life for me," he said.

The versatile actor made a name for himself in the late 1960s at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival.

"Raul's involvement not only on stage but off, as a board member, has meant a great deal to the institution," said George C. Wolfe, the festival's producer. "He will be deeply missed."

Over the years, he was seen in the title roles in Man of La Mancha, Macbeth and Othello; the Fellini-like film director in Nine; Proteus in a musical Two Gentlemen of Verona; Maj. Saranoff in Shaw's Arms and the Man; and Mac-heath in The Threepenny Opera.

He was nominated for Tony Awards for Nine, The Threepenny Opera, Where's Charley and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

"My ideal is to go back and forth between theater and film," he once said. "The experiences contribute to one another."

Mr. Julia had little use for television _ "It's awful," he said _ but he did appear for a season in the early 1970s as handyman Rafael on Sesame Street.

Actor Edward James Olmos praised his friend's versatility.

"Not too many of them can sing and do musicals and dance, and at the same time dramatic pieces and do comedy." And, on a personal level, Olmos said, Mr. Julia "was a very, very caring and kind and giving man."

Offscreen, Mr. Julia and his wife, dancer Merel Poloway, were active in the Hunger Project, which aims to eliminate world hunger by the year 2000.

In addition to Poloway, his survivors include two sons, his mother and two sisters.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Theater

Titus Andronicus, 1967

No Exit, 1967

You Own Thing, 1968

The Persians, 1970

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1971

Hamlet, 1972

Where's Charley, 1974

The Threepenny Opera, 1976

Nine, 1982

Arms and the Man, 1985

Man of La Mancha, 1992

Films

The Panic in Needle Park, 1971

Eyes of Laura Mars, 1978

Tempest, 1982

Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985

Compromising Positions, 1985

The Morning After, 1986

Tango Bar, 1988

The Penitent, 1988

Moon Over Parador, 1988

Tequila Sunrise, 1988

Romero, 1989

Mack the Knife, 1989

Presumed Innocent, 1990

The Rookie, 1990

Havana, 1990

The Addams Family, 1991

The Plague, 1992

Addams Family Values, 1993

Television

Sesame Street, 1971

The Richest Man in the World: The Story of Aristotle Onassis, 1988

The Burning Season, 1994

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