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Society News

The late Keith Pruitt with Tina Louise

The late Keith Pruitt with Tina Louise
at The National Arts Club


 Composer, Actor Keith Douglas Pruitt Dead at 47


Composer and film and TV actor Keith Douglas Pruitt was found dead in his Greenwich Village apartment on Wednesday, November 12, 2008. Police responding to pleas from his family entered the apartment to find him on a living room sofa. Initial autopsy reports indicate that he choked to death. He had been treated for esophageal problems stemming from a home fire in which he was badly injured last year. Further results are still pending.

The Kansas City, Kansas born (October 12, 1961) Pruitt was something of an anomaly in the world of classical music as he supported his composing career by acting in film and soap operas such as “As the World Turns” and “Loving” among others.

The son of inventor/engineer Norman Wallace Pruitt and Emma Jean Thompson Pruitt, he was raised in Annandale, Virginia and graduated from Falls Church School as valedictorian and was drum major for the school’s award winning band.

Mr. Pruitt attended Duke University as the recipient of the A.J. Fletcher Scholarship for Piano. He was winner of the Duke University Concerto Competition and graduated summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He received a fellowship to attend the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a full scholarship to the City University of New York Ph.D. Program where he studied with Pulitzer Prize winning composer David
Del Tredici.

Mr. Pruitt’s compositions have been commissioned and premiered by the Florida Philharmonic, the San Jose Symphony, the New York City Ballet, Pascal Rioult Dance Company, the Guggenheim Museum‘s “Works in Process” series, the Cowles Charitable Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the New York Chamber Ensemble and the Cape May Festival Orchestra.

Mr. Pruitt supported his musical ambitions by starring in a number of New York based daytime dramas including The Guiding Light and As the World Turns as “Frank Wendall” and Loving as “Flynn Riley”.  It also allowed him to introduce his music to a wide television audience.

It was during his stint on the latter show that he and a male companion Jacques Rosas, holding hands on a Greenwich Village street, were savagely beaten by a trio of young men who shouted anti-gay epithets as they beat the pair with golf clubs. Pruitt and his partner would not have the matter swept under the shroud of corporate communications and participated fully in the prosecution of the men which resulted in their being convicted and sent to prison.

He was also featured in the John Waters’ movie Hairspray playing the lead singer of a rock band and as the lead in Carlo Nero’s film, Larry’s Visit.

Several years ago, he founded the Keith Pruitt Piano Studio where he taught gifted young New York area students both performance and composition. Mr. Pruitt is survived by his mother, Jean Pruitt and sister Melanie Pruitt of Annandale,  Virginia, a brother Steve Pruitt and nephew Craig Pruitt both of Buffalo,
New York.  

A Celebration of his life will take place at Shop Studios, 442 West 49th Street on Thursday, November at 6pm. In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations in his memory be made to Classical Action, Performing Arts Against AIDS, 165 West 46th Street, Suite 1310, New York, New York 10036.  


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