Mike Nussbaum, a Chicago-based actor who starred in blockbusters Field of Dreams, Men in Black, Fatal Attraction, and more passed away on Saturday morning (Dec. 23), only five days shy of his 100th birthday.
In the early 1960s, Nussbaum made a name for himself in the Windy City as a theater star. He earned notable roles in many of David Mamet’s plays such as Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo. It wasn’t long before he expanded into Hollywood. But even after landing parts in major films, he remained a fixture in Chicago theater.
Northlight Theatre Artistic Director B.J. Jones, a close friend of his, told ABC News 7 that Nussbaum laid roots in Chicago. And even as a screen side star, he never considered relocating.
“He worked in New York and LA, but he always came home to Chicago,” Jones shared.
“He was born and bred here, and his wife was here, and his kids and that was vitally important to him,” he continued. “Mike was a committed family man as well as an artist, and I believe that is what informed his art.”
Mike Nussbaum Was the Oldest Professional Actor in the Country
And Nussbaum truly lived for his art. He was recognized by the Actor’s Equity Union as being the oldest professional actor in the United States. To top it off, Nussbaum was also the dean of the Chicago School of Acting at the time of his death.
In a 2019 interview with ABC 7, Nussbaum explained why he was still active in theater at 95 and foreshadowed his plans to work until the end.
“I get more fun out of this than I would out of anything else I love,” he said. “I would hate to have to give it up.”
Nussbaum got exactly what he wished for. He never stopped acting, and he had no plans to do so. Jones revealed that he even hand-delivered a script to his friend only four days before Nussbaum passed.