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Diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, he had serious health problems for years and had been admitted to the Beth Israel Hospice five weeks prior to his death, said J.F. Garcia, his executor and friend for 30 years.
“I’ve been living a charmed life,” Richard Stack told The Villager in a 2009 interview shortly before his 70th birthday.
Born Richard Stapp in Indiana, he spent his childhood in South Dakota, his high school years in Las Vegas and was an actor for 30 years until he was diagnosed with AIDS.
The charmed life included appearing as a child — along with everyone else in Spearfish, S.D. — in the annual Black Hills Easter Passion Play around 1939.
After high school in Las Vegas, he was in a resident theater company in Phoenix, Arizona, and got a part in a touring company of “Call Me Madam” with Ethel Merman that started in Hollywood.
He came to New York in 1967, played in Off Broadway, summer stock and national touring shows, the last of which was a 10-month tour of “Noises Off” that ended in 1988 when he was diagnosed with AIDS.
“By that time a lot of my friends had died,” he told The Villager. He quit the theater and went to The Actors Fund for help. At the same, he organized the fund’s AIDS initiative and ran it for two years, recruiting volunteers from among his friends and former colleagues.
At his 70th birthday celebration in the L.G.B.T. Community Center in Greenwich Village in 2009, he told The Villager that his philosophy was, “We all do what we can and sometimes even what we can’t.”
Garcia, who was one of Richard Stack’s first volunteers in the Actors Fund AIDS Initiative 30 years ago, said his friends are planning a memorial service to be announced later this year.