Kevin Croak, who taught appearing at UW-Madison and appeared in impartial movies, was recognized for portraying unhealthy guys.
“He liked to play the mob bosses and the gangsters, from James Cagney onward,” mentioned Wil Loper, who directed Croak in a number of entries within the 48 Hour Movie Mission, an annual competitors.
In actual life, Croak was something however a thug, mentioned those that knew him. “He was very mild and mild-mannered,” Loper mentioned.
Croak’s sister Cathy Braiman agreed. “It’s humorous that the place he landed was this robust man,” she mentioned. “It’s simply the other of how I noticed him.”
Croak, 64, of Madison, died Nov. 28 from issues of COVID-19, in accordance with what the health worker advised the household, Braiman mentioned. Single and dwelling alone, Croak was discovered lifeless at his house just a few days after calling in sick at his waiter job at Olive Backyard close to West Towne Mall. He had no underlying medical circumstances that the household knew of, Braiman mentioned.
He was the fourth of 5 kids who grew up on Madison’s West Aspect and attended Edgewood Excessive Faculty. His siblings left for Colorado, Maryland and Texas — with one dwelling in West Allis — whereas Kevin stayed within the Madison space, the place some cousins stay.
Within the mid-80s, Jay Ekleberry employed Croak at Wisconsin Union’s Mini Programs, now a part of Wheelhouse Studios. Over greater than 30 years, Croak taught fundamental appearing strategies to tons of of scholars within the five-week or six-week programs supplied a number of instances a yr.
“He actually engaged folks,” Ekleberry mentioned. “He custom-made the category based mostly on who was enrolled.”
Loper directed Croak in six quick movies, together with one for which Croak gained a greatest actor award in 2016 within the 48 Hour Movie Mission in Milwaukee. When Loper would ask Croak to present his narration a little bit of Rod Serling from “Twilight Zone” or Mr. Phelps from “Mission Unattainable,” Croak knew precisely what he meant, Loper mentioned.
“On the subsequent take, he would simply nail it,” Loper mentioned. “He lent gravitas in direction of it extra so than caricature.”
Croak was in practically 400 movies and greater than 100 performs, together with Madison Theatre Guild productions, in accordance his undated on-line resume. “I’ve made a profession out of enjoying antagonists who finally come to an premature finish, together with slippery politicians, smarmy attorneys, corrupt cops, mercurial mob mosses, sleazy nightclub house owners, salacious Hollywood administrators, eccentric professors and germaphobic pimps,” the resume says.
Veronica Myers, who met Croak just a few years in the past whereas waitressing at Olive Backyard, mentioned she thought-about him her greatest buddy.
“Kevin had a approach of interacting with those who made them really feel like they had been the one particular person on the earth,” she mentioned.