Clark Middleton, an actor best known for his roles in The Blacklist and Twin Peaks, died on October 4 at the age of 63. Middleton’s death was confirmed by his wife, who said the actor died of the West Nile virus at his home in Los Angeles, Variety reported.
The statement from his wife Elissa reads:
With heavy hearts we announce the passing of a life eminently worthy of celebration: Clark Tinsley Middleton, 63 – beloved actor, writer, director, teacher, hero, husband, beacon, friend. Clark transitioned on October 4th as a result of West Nile Virus, for which there is no known cure. Clark was a beautiful soul who spent a lifetime defying limits and advocating for people with disabilities.
Middleton was an actor who appeared in many theater productions, films and television shows during his career, including appearing as a supporting actor in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and most recently in a recurring role on The Blacklist. He is survived by his wife, brother and mother, Deadline wrote.
Middleton’s Acting Career Began in 1983 When He Appeared in Theater Plays in New York
Middleton made his debut in New York in 1983, appearing in various plays including his Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated “The Iceman Cometh” alongside Denzel Washington, Variety reported. He also wrote and performed a one-person play, Miracle Mile, in which he explored his personal experience with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, according to RA Guy.
Starting in the 1990s, Middleton appeared in numerous television shows, including Law & Order, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Path and in the 2017 revival of Twin Peaks, in which he played the role of the husband to character Audrey Horne, his IMDB profile indicates. Most recently, from 2014 to 2020, Middleton appeared in The Blacklist as recurring character Glen Carter. On the big screen, the 63-year-old appeared in Sin City, Serendipity, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Birdman and Snowpiercer.
Jon Bokenkamp, writer for The Blacklist, said in a statement to Variety:
I’m heartbroken. Besides being a truly unique and gifted actor, Clark was simply an incredible guy in every way. He was a whip-smart film nut. He loved his work with a passion. And he was insanely generous of spirit … I know his entire family at The Blacklist is devastated by this news. Clark was one of the good ones, and we lost him way too soon.
He Became a Spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation & Shared His Experiences Growing Up With Arthritis
Middleton also became a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation, where a post on their website from 2017 shares details of Middleton’s childhood. The actor was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of four and his family moved to Arizona for a warmer climate.
“I will never forget riding in that ’55 station wagon on our voyage to Arizona,” Middleton told the website. “My joints were so swollen that my dad created a bed in the back for me to lie down. He would brake very slowly at the hundreds of stoplights along Route 66 to avoid [causing] me pain.”
Middleton said his father was a source of inspiration in handling his diagnosis and inspired his refusal to become dependent on others.
My dad refused to let me quit. He constantly instilled in me that I could define my own reality by how I thought about myself and how I carried myself. He wouldn’t allow me to think of myself as a victim. He taught me a lot about determination and courage.
Because of his condition, Middleton was hospitalized several times throughout his childhood, missing one year of high school because of problems with his hip. The website reported that although his arthritis was under control as an adult, he continued to have issues with his joints and had 10 joints replaced in about 14 surgeries: “including both knees, both hips, a shoulder and an elbow.”
West Nile Virus Is Mostly Spread Through Mosquito Bites & There Is No Cure or Vaccine
The West Nile virus, which Middleton’s wife indicated was his cause of death, is primarily spread through mosquito bites and it has no known cure or vaccine to date. According to the CDC, West Nile virus “is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.”
The CDC’s website adds that as of September 22, there have been 174 cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. in 2020. In the continental U.S., about 1 in 5 infected people develop symptoms and, “1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.” It is unclear when Middleton contracted the virus.