Charles Allan (Lanny) Lutz, a man of prodigious intellect and theatrical talent, died on Jan. 5, 2021, in Los Angeles after an extended illness. Born on Jan. 1, 1942 to Ruth Flarida Lutz and Allan Barr Lutz in Washington D.C., the family moved to Birmingham, Michigan after the war and in 1953 to Darien, Connecticut. In high school, he excelled in competitive sports. He was an avid sailor and won numerous races on Long Island Sound.
A 1964 graduate of Yale University, he majored in English while his love for theater flourished in Yale dramatic productions. He was an accomplished pianist and also a student of French, which he spoke fluently. He took a year off from Yale to explore France, and in Paris he met and married Katia Brillie.
After returning to finish his B.A. at Yale, he taught English at Milford Academy. In 1967, he and his wife moved to New York City where their daughter, Natalie Cybèle, was born and where Lanny devoted himself to acting full-time. In 1969, he and his wife moved to London where he attended the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Charles, as his RADA friends refer to him, graduated with the Honours Diploma and won the highest and most prestigious honor the institute conferred, the Bancroft Gold Medal, for his entire career at RADA, including a memorable performance of the title role in Tartuffe.
A classmate, Canadian writer Alexandra Sellers wrote, “He was a brilliant, intense actor, and the pity was that as an American he wasn’t allowed to work in the UK … all the connection with West End directors and casting agents was sadly wasted.”
In 1971, the family relocated back to New York City, where Lanny continued to study acting. He moved to Los Angeles and, after a divorce, relocated to the Chicago area, where he lived in Oak Park for more than 20 years.
He was involved in numerous pursuits in Oak Park, as an actor, founder in about 1996 with Gerald Clay of Black-White Dialogue, host of a radio show, passionate spokesman for sugar maples, and a distributor of Lūtz Wine, for which he sponsored numerous wine-tasting parties in homes and river boat cruises, as well as supporting Oak Park Festival Theatre by purchasing display ads in their programs. He was a member of the Festival Theatre Board of Directors for several years and founded a contractor’s reference service, Lanny’s List. He was also proud of having passed the stringent requirements to become a licensed 18-wheeler truck driver. He loved fine wine and good meals with friends and a good debate. Possessing a booming laugh, Lanny was to some a modern Zorba the Greek.
In 2005, he performed to acclaim the lead role in All My Sons at Oak Park Festival Theatre and in 2006 reprised his RADA performance in the title role of Tartuffe. A member of the Actors’ Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, he played a small, but significant role in the film Batman, the Dark Knight.
In 2016 he left the full life he had lived in Oak Park and returned to Los Angeles to pursue his dream. He had a full and adventuresome life, dedicated to his passion, acting. He dreamed of becoming the publicly recognized great actor that his theater friends claimed was his due and continued to pursue that dream throughout his life, without achieving stardom, which saddened him and his many friends, but without compromise, regret, or self-pity. He was happy to be free, referring to himself as a gypsy, and chose and enjoyed the life he wanted, always living according to his values.
Lanny Lutz was content with the life he led.
A Zoom celebration of Lanny’s life on Jan. 30 organized by his daughter, Natalie, was attended by dozens of family and friends from France, England, Canada, and the U.S. with beloved tales of a well-lived life from his youth to his studies at RADA to his years in Oak Park.
Lanny was predeceased by his parents, Ruth and Allan Lutz. He is survived by his daughter, Natalie Lutz; his ex-wife, Katia Lutz; his sister, Carolyn Gibson (Vero Beach, Florida); his dear friend from Oak Park, Janet Bohler; his two grandchildren, Loic Tatischeff, 27 (wife Summer), and Magalie Tatischeff, 25; his nephew, Ian Gibson, and niece, Elizabeth (Liz) Gibson.
As Lanny would say: “Tally Ho, Daddio!”