Stan Kirsch, an actor who played the Immortal Richie Ryan for five seasons on the 1990s syndicated hit fantasy drama Highlander: The Series, died Jan. 11 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 51.
The cause of death was suicide, according to the L.A. County Medical Examiner’s Office.
His death was announced on the Facebook page of Stan Kirsch Studios, the Los Angeles acting studio he founded with his wife Kristyn Green in 2008. Green subsequently confirmed Kirsch’s death in a Facebook post thanking well-wishers (“I feel surrounded by love and am forever grateful to each and every one of you,” she wrote.)
In addition to his five-season role Highlander role (he later returned for a series finale appearance), Kirsch made appearances on JAG, Invincible, Family Law and, in perhaps his most memorable guest starring role, Friends.
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In the 1995 Friends episode “The One With The Ick Factor,” Kirsch played Ethan, Monica’s underage boyfriend (the high school senior had lied to Courteney Cox’s character about his age until after they’d had sex.)
Kirsch got his start in show business as a child actor in a 1972 Campbell’s Soup commercial, and 20 years later, after graduating from Duke University, was cast in an unsold TV pilot and on ABC’s General Hospital.
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Kirsch’s signature role soon followed when he was cast on the first season of Highlander; he played the often comic role of the youthful Immortal Richie Ryan for five seasons, and returned in the sixth season series finale.
The official Highlander Facebook page posted a tribute to Kirsch last night, stating, in part, “Without Stan Kirsch, Highlander: The Series would have been far less. He brought a sense of humor, kindness and youthful enthusiasm to the character of Richie Ryan for six seasons.”
The tribute in full reads:
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Stan Kirsch.
Without Stan Kirsch, Highlander: The Series would have been far less. He brought a sense of humor, kindness and youthful enthusiasm to the character of Richie Ryan for six seasons.
Stan was at a disadvantage compared to other actors portraying immortals on the series. He was never able to have flashbacks from the 1800’s or discuss how things were ‘back in his day’. However, Stan turned this situation into an opportunity; providing one of the few portrayals on the show where a character gradually grew into a wise, skilled and self-assured individual from episode to episode. Stan even changed himself physically to show how Richie Ryan would survive in the world of the immortals.
Although Richie Ryan’s life was cut short on the show, there was little more to see; Richie Ryan had evolved into his own man, and it was Stan’s performance that made it true.
Beyond Highlander: The Series, Stan Kirsch was an accomplished acting coach. We have heard first-hand testimonials from many of his students; all of them having considered Stan an incredible teacher and a gift of a human being.
Every time we had the opportunity to catch up with Stan, he was nothing but kind, thoughtful and sincere. He was a warm presence that will be missed.
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-8255
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