Actor and UD alum Christopher Welch dies

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Evan Hierholzer, Managing Editor

The curtain closed too soon on the life of Christoper Evan Welch, a University of Dallas drama graduate whose success on stage, screen and television received critical acclaim. He died of cancer on Dec. 2 at the age of 48.

Welch enjoyed a successful acting career, which, beginning here at UD, went on to include an admirable career in Off- Broadway productions, numerous television appearances and film work. Welch had a successful run in Mike Judge’s HBO comedy, “Silicon Valley,” which had just completed its first season. An article written by Jerome Weeks at KERA.org cited Welch’s success with that series among other accomplishments. He starred in numerous stage productions (including an Off-Broadway production of “A Streetcar Named Desire”) and many television appearances, and he worked in film with the likes of Stephen Spielberg, Woody Allen and Larry David.

Welch skillfully played an array of colorful and memorable figures throughout his career. According to Michael Phillips, in an obituary for the Chicago Tribune, Welch starred as the quirky Touchstone in a Fort Worth production of “As You Like It,” and he played across Philip Seymour Hoffman in a crucial scene in “The Master.” Additionally, according to DanielSlotnik in his piece for The New York Times, he starred as a clerk in Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” did voice work in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and appeared in the popular series “The Sopranos” and “Law and Order.”

Welch’s successful acting career, however, began at UD, notably in his role in the 1980s production of the “The Water Engine” by David Mamet. The director of this production, Patrick Kelly, professor emeritus of drama, spoke warmly of his student.

John Bolding, left, acts with Christopher Welch, right, in the fall 1987 UD production of “The Water Engine.” -photo courtesy of University of Dallas drama department
John Bolding, left, acts with Christopher Welch, right, in the fall 1987 UD production of “The Water Engine.”
-photo courtesy of University of Dallas drama department

“Chris was a joy and an inspiration to the many whose lives he touched during his all too brief span on earth,” he said. “Audiences at plays, movies, television and listeners to his audiobook performances, his colleagues and even critics and reviewers: they all admired his artistry profoundly.  His close friends and many of his teachers treasured his sense of fun, his integrity, loyalty, kindness, selflessness and – finally – courage. Of course, all these and his total devotion as a husband and father lit up the lives of his wife Emma and three-year-old daughter June,” he said.

Another friend of Welch, Professor Kyle Lemieux of the drama department, spoke equally highly of the actor: “My first meeting with Chris was while he was performing in “A Skull in Connemara” in New York in 2001.  His performance was full of wry humor and had a subtle but brilliant character arch that I had rarely, if ever, encountered before on stage. Not only was he a remarkable stage actor, as the many testimonies published can attest, he was also a champion of our drama department, specifically, its graduates. He never hesitated to have a drink or a meal with a former student of the department and offer advice or encouragement to anyone who asked. For that, personally, I am eternally grateful, and he will be missed by all who had the good fortune to encounter him.”

Welch is survived by his wife, Emma Roberts Welch, and a daughter, June Harper.

Obituaries for Welch were published in numerous publications including The Times, The Tribune and others. Each spoke with glowing praise of Welch as an actor, husband and father.

The Tribune’s Phillips said: “To those who knew his work on screen and on stage, Christopher Evan Welch wasn’t just famous, he was infamously creative.”

Kelly emphasized the same sentiment.

“Christopher Evan Welch will serve as an example to all aspirants that great artistry and great humanity may exist in one valiant man,” Kelly said. “I speak confidently for the whole theatrical profession when I say we miss him terribly,” he said.

 

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