American actor and singer René Auberjonois best know for his role as the alien shapeshift Odo in Star Trek : Deep Space Nine has passed away at the age of 79. He had been married to his wife Judith since 1963. They had two children, Tessa and Remy, and three grandchildren. René Auberjonois died from lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles.
Auberjonois was born in New York City. His father, Swiss-born Fernand Auberjonois, was a Cold War-era foreign correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer. His paternal grandfather, also named René Auberjonois, was a Swiss post-Impressionist painter. 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.
In 1968, Auberjonois landed a role on Broadway, and appeared in three plays simultaneously: as Fool to Lee J. Cobb’s King Lear (the longest running production of the play in Broadway history), as Ned in A Cry of Players (opposite Frank Langella), and as Marco in Fire! In 1969, he earned a Tony Award for his performance as Sebastian Baye alongside Katharine Hepburn in Coco. He received Tony nominations for his roles in Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor (1973) opposite Christopher Plummer; as the Duke in Big River (1984), winning a Drama Desk Award; and, memorably, as Buddy Fidler/Irwin S. Irving in City of Angels (1989), written by Larry Gelbart and Cy Coleman.
Other Broadway appearances included Malvolio in Twelfth Night (1972); Scapin in Tricks (1973); Mr. Samsa in Metamorphosis (1989); Professor Abronsius in Dance of the Vampires (musical), the English-language version of Jim Steinman’s musical adaptation of Tanz der Vampire; and Jethro Crouch in Sly Fox (2004), for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award. In films, Auberjonois portrayed Father Mulcahy in MASH (1970), the expedition scientist Roy Bagley in King Kong (1976), and Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid (1989), in which he sang “Les Poissons”. In the American animated musical comedy film Cats Don’t Dance (1997), Auberjonois lent his voice as Flanagan, the human film director of “Li’l Ark Angel”.
His subsequent film roles included the gangster Tony in Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988 ), and Reverend Oliver in The Patriot (2000). He made cameo appearances in a number of films, including: Dr. Burton, a mental asylum doctor patterned after Tim Burton, in Batman Forever (1995), and a bird expert who gradually transforms into a bird in Robert Altman’s 1970 film Brewster McCloud. He appeared as Colonel West in the 1991 Star Trek film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other notable film appearances have included: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Images (1972), Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972), The Hindenburg (1975), King Kong (1976), The Big Bus (1976), Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Where The Buffalo Roam (1980), Walker (1987), My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1988 ), The Feud (1989), Inspector Gadget (1999), and Eulogy (2004).
Auberjonois portrayed the character of Straight Hollander in the 1993 Miramax film The Ballad of Little Jo. He voiced Professor Genius in Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Louis the Chef in the 1st and 2nd Little Mermaid films, Flanagan in Cats Don’t Dance, the Butler in Joseph: King of Dreams, and the concierge in Planes: Fire & Rescue. In various long-running television series, Auberjonois portrayed a number of characters, including: Clayton Endicott III on Benson (for which he was an Emmy Award nominee), Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Paul Lewiston on Boston Legal. He was also in two episodes of Frasier. He also branched out into voice acting for video games, having appeared in a number of popular video games. He portrayed the Greek mythological figure Talos in the first God of War (2005) game, the enigmatic Mr. House in Fallout: New Vegas (2010), Karl Schafer in the Uncharted video game series, and Odo in Star Trek Online.