Bruce Hyde, whose acting career took him from the original "Star Trek" series to summer stock in northern Minnesota to small stages in the Twin Cities, died Tuesday at 74. Hyde had suffered from throat cancer and was in hospice near St. Cloud.
Hyde had chaired the department of theater, film studies and dance at St. Cloud State University for more than 20 years before he had to step down this year. He also was one of the artistic directors at L'Homme Dieu Theater in Alexandria when St. Cloud State oversaw that summer stock operation.
It was his work on "Star Trek" that always wowed local actors who worked with Hyde.
"He never made a big deal about it," said actor-director Zach Curtis. "He was like, 'Yeah, I did that.' We were the people who made a big deal about him. He talked about it as an experience that got him to where he was now."
Hyde, a Dallas native, played Lt. Kevin Riley on two early episodes of "Star Trek" that remain fan favorites: "The Naked Time" and "The Conscience of the King." He thought little of it at the time because no one could fathom what a cultural phenomenon the series would become.
"They were good parts," he said in a 2004 interview. "I just liked the experience of working for a paycheck."
It wasn't until several years later, reading about a New York convention dedicated to "Star Trek" that he realized "how big it was." He appeared at a few conventions and even sang "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," which he had done in one of the episodes to great acclaim.
"Of all the TV shows I could have done in the '60s, how many would still have this following?" he said in 2004. "I feel privileged to be a part of it."
Hyde also did guest spots on "That Girl" and "The Beverly Hillbillies" and then did "Canterbury Tales" on Broadway. He performed with a San Francisco production of "Hair" and then dropped out of acting for a decade.
Hyde started at St. Cloud State in 1990 and first achieved critical notice as an actor on the Twin Cities stage about a decade later for his smart and focused performance as a British agent in a production at Theatre in the Round. He continued with a performance as Willy Loman in Starting Gate Production's staging of "Death of a Salesman" that remains one of the best takes on Arthur Miller's iconic character ever to grace a local stage. Other notable performances included "12 Angry Men," "The Rainmaker" and "Of Mice and Men."
"He was so effortless," said Curtis, who directed Hyde frequently and also acted with him.
Indeed, he appeared that way, but Curtis noted that Hyde would carry roles with him throughout the run of a show.
"I always felt sorry for Susan [Saetre, his wife of 20 years] when he had a bad-guy character because he lived that at home," Curtis said.
Hyde received his cancer diagnosis several years ago and had recovered to the point where friends and family felt he was in the clear, Curtis said. The disease returned this year. Throughout his ordeal, Hyde supported theatrical productions with his presence.
"Every time he saw a show, he would stay afterward and talk to everyone," Curtis said. "When we did 'Lend Me a Tenor' up in St. Cloud, Susan told me afterward that he hadn't laughed that hard in a long time."
Hyde is survived by Saetre, two stepchildren, a granddaughter and a sister and brother-in-law. A private service is being planned.