Clark Middleton, a prolific actor of stage and screen, most well-known for his role of DMV employee Glen “Jellybean’ Carter on NBC’s The Blacklist passed away on October 4. Variety confirmed that Middleton’s death was a result of the West Nile Virus (WNV), a mosquito-carried disease with no known cure.
— The Blacklist (@NBCBlacklist) June 23, 2020
Elissa Middleton (Faraway Eyes, As Good As Dead), actress and wife of Middleton, released a statement in which she referred to her late husband’s many roles in life: “beloved actor, writer, director, teacher, hero, husband, beacon, friend” (Variety). The couple ran the acting school APT 929, which operated out of New York City and Los Angeles, together.
In 1983, Middleton began his acting career on-stage, playing Hugo in the Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh alongside Denzel Washington, via Variety. Later in his career he returned to the stage in his critically acclaimed one-man show entitled Miracle Mile.
On the big screen, Middleton had worked with such directors as Bong Joon Ho (Parasite, Snowpiercer), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood), Alejandro Iñárritu (Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Revenant), Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi), Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Boyhood), Milos Foreman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus) and Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, The Green Inferno). Middleton has also worked with acclaimed film director David Lynch (Eraserhead, Mullholland Drive) on television in Twin Peaks: The Return, where he played Charlie, the exasperated partner of fan-favorite character Audrey Horne.
Cast and crew members who have worked alongside Middleton in his acclaimed television projects have expressed their grief and disbelief over his passing on social media. Amir Arison (The Blacklist, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), who worked with Middleton on both The Blacklist and the feature film Day Zero posted a photo of the two together on Instagram, expressing his heartbreak. “His entire family at The Blacklist is devastated by this news” writer Jon Bokenkamp reported to Variety. While rather unkind to Middleton on-screen as Audrey Horne, actress Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks, Gilmore Girls) expressed her devastation over the loss of her Twin Peaks: The Return scene partner on social media.
View this post on Instagram
In addition to touching those he’s worked with on-screen, Middleton has shaped many prospective actors through his work as an instructor and teacher. According to Variety, the actor has lent his talents to acting students in New York City for over 20 years. Middleton planned to keep up his work with actors during the pandemic through virtual acting classes taught over Zoom and run through Event Brite.
Middleton, who lived with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since age 4, has served as a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation. “Clark was a beautiful soul who spent a lifetime defying limits and advocating for people with disabilities,” Middleton’s wife referred to his disability advocacy in her October 4 statement, via Variety.
West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States, but death from the disease is rare according to EW. “As of Sept. 22, there have been 174 total cases of West Nile Virus in the country this year, with six deaths” EW reports on the disease “only 1 in 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal illness.”
Variety reports that Middleton is survived by his brother Kirby Middleton and his mother Sue Perior as well as his wife.