René Auberjonois 1940-2019
December 8, 2019 5:30 PM   Subscribe

René Auberjonois, veteran of stage, screen, and voice acting for over half a century, has died of metastatic lung cancer, per his family. [WaPo] [Twitter]

Auberjonois essayed hundreds of roles over his career, from Father John Mulcahey (M*A*S*H, the Robert Altman film) to Clayton Runnymede Endicott III (Benson) to Odo (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) to Chef Louis (The Little Mermaid) to Mr. House in Fallout: New Vegas. His grandfather, also named René Auberjonois, was a noted post-Impressionist painter. In addition to his family and countless colleagues, he leaves behind grateful fans in at least two galactic quadrants.
posted by Halloween Jack (120 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by aught at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by slater at 5:32 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by abigailKim at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by SpannerX at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2019


Hmph.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2019 [22 favorites]


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posted by valkane at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by brainwane at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2019


"It is with great heartache and loss I share with you the passing of dear,dear Rene Auberjonois.His last message to me was entitled "Don't forget..." I know that I,Kitty,and all that knew him will never forget.The world seems noticeably emptier now. I loved him."

Armin Shimerman

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posted by gc at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2019 [35 favorites]


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posted by Leeway at 5:40 PM on December 8, 2019


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Odo meant so much to me.

I'm biracial, and look ethnically ambiguous, so sometimes I pass as white and sometimes people assume I'm Hispanic or Middle Eastern or whatever and sometimes people guess correctly based on my surname or my appearance.

None of the mixed-race characters on Star Trek shows spoke to my experience because their identities were always sort of binary--my Vulcan half pulls me this way, my human half pulls me the other way. My experience was much more of fluidity than "torn between two halves" and a character who was literally fluid felt much more relatable to me. His complicated relationship with his homeworld and the others of his species--of having no real home to go to, because his time away had made him too different--also resonated with me.

Odo was also a tremendously complex character, far from perfect, and I am so glad that he was played by an actor who took the role absolutely seriously. I am so sad to hear this news.
posted by creepygirl at 5:41 PM on December 8, 2019 [99 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 5:43 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 5:49 PM on December 8, 2019


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If one more DS9 actor dies before the year is up, I'm going to assume it's the work of a serial killer.
posted by riruro at 5:53 PM on December 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:53 PM on December 8, 2019


Having enjoyed his work even as a teenager I do have an odd memory of him. My mother is a midwife and one day she came across a book on exercise or stretching during pregnancy. Many of the exercises were couple based. Looking through it she called me over to confirm her suspicion that the uncredited male partner in the photos was René Auberjonois. Sure enough it was. I always thought that should be part of his work portfolio. Actor, director, singer, male model, and supportive partner.

My condolences to his friend and family.

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posted by Ignorantsavage at 5:53 PM on December 8, 2019 [26 favorites]


oh no
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:56 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Imma quote myself from an old DS9 fanfare thread:

This guy was one of the strongest actors Trek ever had. He did not condescend to this material at all and he recognized the unique opportunities that stories like this presented for an actor. He treated it like real theater, an opportunity to play with masks and voices and invisible walls, to bring things to life. I remember the episode where he's raising the little Changeling baby, it was all very moving and sad and it wasn't until the very end that I realized that Auberjonois had spent the whole episode emoting to a goddamned jar of orange goo. That's some serious acting, right there.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:59 PM on December 8, 2019 [56 favorites]


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posted by groda at 6:03 PM on December 8, 2019


I've been watching DS9 and the Odo episodes are consistently my favorite. His performance is just so good! The episodes where he's torn between his allegiance to his people vs. the Federation, the episodes where he's in love with Kira and can't act on it. Hell they even made a holodeck episode about that (Vic Fontaine), the only holodeck episode in the history of Star Trek that didn't suck. All because Auberjonois could really sell the character. I have to think he brought a lot to it himself, the writing at the start for Odo wasn't much.

I also loved him in Benson as Clayton Endicott III. I always read that character as gay although in early 80s TV it was of course not explicit, just coded in stereotypes. And Auberjonois played a pissy uptight queen super well. Good fun.

He has an interesting website, talking in his own voice about his roles. His Contemplating Clayton is excellent and shows you some of his thinking on the role. There's also several articles about Odo although they seem less personal.
posted by Nelson at 6:03 PM on December 8, 2019 [10 favorites]


A Tragedy Has Befallen All Mankind
posted by um at 6:05 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I had the pleasure of shepherding him at a convention years ago. An absolute professional and a genuinely friendly human being, he knew just the right thing to say to each and every fan who talked to him.

(He thought up “He was drafted.” in rehearsals. I would give my left lung to write a single line that good.)
posted by Etrigan at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2019 [10 favorites]


Oh, no. This is very sad to hear.
posted by PussKillian at 6:18 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:20 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by jim in austin at 6:25 PM on December 8, 2019


My little Star Trek corner of the internet is having a solemn moment right now, between this and D.C. Fontana.

This great letter René wrote for Oracle 11 is going around just now. Look at that little drawing at the end. I got the impression that he treated every one of his roles with respect - especially the funny bits.
posted by Mizu at 6:26 PM on December 8, 2019 [7 favorites]


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posted by XMLicious at 6:30 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by cendawanita at 6:35 PM on December 8, 2019


So much more than just a man with a name like a misspelled eggplant. An actor I would always stop and watch no matter how small the part.

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posted by zaixfeep at 6:39 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by dantsea at 6:45 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by Thorzdad at 6:48 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by 20 year lurk at 6:51 PM on December 8, 2019


Oh no, so sad to hear this. To me, Odo was one of the very best characters in DS9.

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posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 6:59 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by MrGuilt at 7:04 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by homunculus at 7:05 PM on December 8, 2019


From actor Annie Wersching:
My first ever tv job was an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where #ReneAuberjonois played my father. I had come from theatre & had never stepped foot on a soundstage before. He could not have been more warm & welcoming.
💔I learned so much from watching him.💔
#RIPReneAuberjonois
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posted by ZeusHumms at 7:05 PM on December 8, 2019 [14 favorites]


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posted by bkpiano at 7:13 PM on December 8, 2019


\ ODO /
\__.__/

With D.C. Fontana and Robert Walker, Jr., I was bracing myself for a third this week, but still had a visceral reaction of "no, it can't be." What a joy of character he shaped, figuratively and literally. I can only hope he’ll still be able to keep an eye on Quark, somewhere.

Apparently he donated the money he received from signing autographs at conventions to Doctors Without Borders. By all accounts, he was a generous actor, and a generous man.

Harumph, indeed.
posted by ilana at 7:27 PM on December 8, 2019 [16 favorites]


God, I remember when DS9 was in its first seasons how cool I thought it was to see a guy from a show like Benson move on to a show like Star Trek.
And somehow I hadn't remembered he was Mr. House. So sad.

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posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:31 PM on December 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


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posted by Gray Duck at 7:34 PM on December 8, 2019


I recall a story where they took a cast photo as Deep Space Nine was gearing up. Auberjonois sort of struck a pose, and the other actors were chuckling about it. His retort was, "We'll see who looks better on the lunchbox."
posted by jabah at 7:35 PM on December 8, 2019 [46 favorites]


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posted by rather be jorting at 7:44 PM on December 8, 2019


\_/
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:46 PM on December 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


I hope very much to goo with him in the Great Link
posted by supercres at 7:53 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


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posted by mmascolino at 7:58 PM on December 8, 2019


On following tweets about Auberjonois I also found out that Marina Sirtis's husband died at the same time. Trek is not having a good week.
posted by zadcat at 8:18 PM on December 8, 2019 [17 favorites]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 8:34 PM on December 8, 2019


\_/
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posted by riverlife at 9:18 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by droplet at 9:23 PM on December 8, 2019


I've been making my way through DS9 this year, having not seen it the first time around. Fell off part way through the first season, back in the 90's. But what a fantastic show... Odo, Kira, Quark and Weyoun were all consistently above and beyond. All the others do a great job, too, but those four I just consistently come away thinking that, damn, that was some amazing work.

I've been leaving zombie comments in the DS9 Fanfare threads along the way... Feel free to join in.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:25 PM on December 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


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posted by drivingmenuts at 9:42 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by mstokes650 at 10:11 PM on December 8, 2019


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My parents were huge fans of his stage career- when I was a little one watching DS9 on the tv my parents were seeing him on the stage at ACT in San Francisco. What a man.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget his role as Donald Phelps in Eye of Laura Mars (including a disturbing Lloyd Bridges impression!)

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posted by gtrwolf at 10:25 PM on December 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Oh no. He was truly a gifted actor and a bright star in the cosmos.

🌟
posted by limeonaire at 10:43 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


One of the local broadcast stations runs H&I on which evenings feature all Star Treks save Discovery run in a strip from 8 to midnight. The last DS9 ran Ssturday night while the first.is on right now. Odo was a complex character, Rene Auberjonois a fine actor. This is sad news. He is missed and always will be remembered.
posted by y2karl at 10:53 PM on December 8, 2019


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posted by Svejk at 12:23 AM on December 9, 2019


Oh no, not Odo. Odo'ital, Unknown Sample, just had to go and die on my birthday just so I'll never forget. Harummph indeed.

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posted by zengargoyle at 12:42 AM on December 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


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posted by Faint of Butt at 3:55 AM on December 9, 2019


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I remember him in Benson
posted by Mrs Potato at 4:45 AM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by Secret Sparrow at 5:41 AM on December 9, 2019


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posted by theora55 at 5:55 AM on December 9, 2019


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posted by DigDoug at 5:58 AM on December 9, 2019


I read his Wikipedia article, and two amazing things stuck out to me:

* He was married to the same person since 1963 (!).
* "His mother, Princess Laure Louise Napoléone Eugénie Caroline Murat (1913–1986), was a great-great granddaughter of Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon's marshals and King of Naples during the First French Empire, and his wife, Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's youngest sister."

I just read an enormous Napoleon bio this year, so Murat is fresh in my mind. Quite the pedigree!

He says his name means "armorer" but idk if that's right.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:10 AM on December 9, 2019 [6 favorites]


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posted by jpziller at 6:35 AM on December 9, 2019


Aw, dammit.

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posted by allthinky at 6:42 AM on December 9, 2019


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posted by mark k at 7:44 AM on December 9, 2019


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posted by tobascodagama at 7:57 AM on December 9, 2019


Odo is one of the best Trek characters written and René's portrayal was a cut-above. He will be missed
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:01 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Les Poissons" – such a wonderfully comic bit and performed SO WELL – and here's him performing it for a con audience.
posted by WCityMike at 8:06 AM on December 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


He was also memorable on an episode of the Rockford Files as a murderous fashion designer who is booed off the runway during the debut of his crazy fashion line.
posted by soakingbook at 8:18 AM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Break out the good Amontillado.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:32 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


episode where he renewed himself in Mrs. Roddenberry's skirt...
I haven't had TV since 2006. I got Netflix and started by watching all of Next Gen, now I am in the roundelay of the rest. Odo is one of my favorite characters because he was so well written, and so expertly played. It is nice to know he, the individual actor, was beloved, generous, and kind...
posted by Oyéah at 9:10 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


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posted by eckeric at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2019


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posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:38 AM on December 9, 2019


How I love Les Poissons...

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posted by ikahime at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


I was lucky enough to see him live, when he came to DC to play Argan (who was also sort of Molière) in Molière's The Imaginary Invalid. It was a lovely, Commedia-inspired production-- funny throughout, but with a reference to Molière's death at the end. Here's a radio interview he did about it (with transcript).
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:40 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by condour75 at 12:58 PM on December 9, 2019


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posted by coppertop at 1:05 PM on December 9, 2019


Nana Visitor:
When I visited him, a few weeks before his death, we knew it might be the last time and he gave me a present. He said, “Nana, you are one of those actors who act from their souls”. That was exactly what I loved about him. Even though his face was completely hidden by a latex mask on “Star Trek,” you could see his soul. And with the speed of the animated Genie in the “Aladdin” movies, he could go from fury to complete self deprecation to kitten sweetness to clown. When he was fed up after maybe 14 hours of being in the makeup that prevented him from being able to eat or drink in a normal way, he could have the ominous energy of a volcano about to erupt, and I would steel myself for what could come. And then suddenly he would pull out pictures of his wife Judith and his children Tessa and Remy. He would look at them as if he had never seen this modern wonder of preserving images before and offer them to me and say, ”Aren’t they just beautiful?” and I would say they were, and he would smile inside his mask like a contented child. As the writer Jon Kabat Zinn puts it in “The Full Catastrophe,” he lived the entire human experience without whitewashing the hard bits, while joyfully digging in to the good. When he laughed, it was with every bit of him, and he laughed a lot.
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posted by rewil at 1:26 PM on December 9, 2019 [32 favorites]


A toast

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posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by porpoise at 4:48 PM on December 9, 2019


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posted by wiskunde at 5:09 PM on December 9, 2019


Thank you for making the lost college years less lost; sad to see you go. :)
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posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 5:49 PM on December 10, 2019


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