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The Kansas City community is mourning the loss of their dear friend and neighbor, Kip Niven. His talents alongside his glowing personality left a lasting impression both on and off the screen.
Niven is a Kansas-City native whose life’s achievements laid heavily in the acting department. His career began in the 1970s when he guest starred in TV dramas including Escape and Emergency! before getting his big break in the first Dirty Harry sequel. A few short years later, he played in the 1973 film, Magnum Force as “Red” Astrachan, a rookie cop who terrorized San Francisco’s underworld and Clint Eastwood.
The actor had finally kicked his foot through the Hollywood door. He began appearing on several TV shows including Earthquake (1974), Midway (1976), and The Hindenburg (1977). While starring in small screen dramas, he had a role as Rev. Tom Marshall on The Waltons.
In the early 80s, he got some screentime on the CBS sitcom Alice – playing a key role in the series finale. Throughout the 80s and part of the 90s, Niven stayed in the TV scene, starring in hit series like Law & Order and Walker, Texas Ranger.
Arguably one of Niven’s most memorable roles was in the 2014 film, Jayhawkers as he played the legendary University of Kansas basketball coach, Phog Allen. The film was written and directed by Oscar-award winning writer, Kevin Willmott who spoke very highly of his fellow actor friend.
“Kip was Kansas City theater and film in many ways. he was a symbol of its heart and beauty and community. He was our little piece of Hollywood right here in the backyard.“
In the 1990s, Niven returned to his home base of Kansas City where he launched the Equity Actors’ Readers’ Theatre (EARTh), staging dramatic play readings. He became very involved in the local theater scene and was set to perform in The Wizard of Oz this June.
On Monday, May 6, 2019, Niven died of a heart attack.
Our prayers go out to his family during this heartbreaking time. Niven is survived by his life partner, Claudia and his three children, Maggie, Kate, and Jim.
Kip Niven’s spirit and memory will be remembered for decades to come. May he rest in peace.