Willie Garson, the character actor best known as Carrie Bradshaw’s stylish male best friend Stanford Blatch on Sex and the City (and its forthcoming revival), passed away, it was reported on Tuesday. He was 57 years old.
Born in Highland Park, New Jersey, Garson studied theater at Wesleyan and acquired an MFA from Yale Drama School. In the ‘80s, he started his long run as a TV fixture. He could be seen on shows like Cheers, Family Ties, Quantum Leap, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Ally McBeal, and Friends. On NYPD Blue, he had a recurring role over seven episodes from 1996 through 1999. He appeared in movies as well, among them Groundhog Day (as Bill Murray’s assistant), The Rock, Mars Attacks!, and three movies for the Farrelly brothers: Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary, and Fever Pitch.
It was Sex and the City that made him a name. Stanford, a gay talent agent with as much fashion sense as Carrie, if not moreso, was the only character who wasn’t one of the main foursome to occasionally get his own storylines. Garson himself was heterosexual, but his excitable turn as Stanford became one of the show’s most beloved characters. Garson will be seen in the limited revival series And Just Like That…
Garson’s son Nathen posted a loving tribute to his father on Instagram.
“I love you so much papa,” Nathen wrote. “Rest In Peace and I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much. I’m so proud of you. I will always love you, but I think it’s time for you to go on an adventure of your own. You’ll always be with me. Love you more than you will ever know and I’m glad you can be at peace now. You always were the toughest and funniest and smartest person I’ve known. I’m glad you shared your love with me. I’ll never forget it or lose it.”
The cause of Garson’s death is currently unknown, but the sudden news inspired widespread mourning across social media. His fellow Sex and the City alumni poured out some love.
So deeply, deeply sad we have lost @WillieGarson. We all loved him and adored working with him. He was endlessly funny on-screen and and in real life. He was a source of light, friendship and show business lore. He was a consummate professional— always. pic.twitter.com/G63EJIj8lG
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) September 22, 2021
Such sad news and a terribly sad loss to the SATC family. Our condolences and RIP dear Willie xo pic.twitter.com/yXhPkxRTv3
— Kim Cattrall (@KimCattrall) September 22, 2021
I couldn’t have had a more brilliant TV partner. I’m devastated and just overwhelmed with Sadness. Taken away from all of us way soon. You were a gift from the gods. Rest my sweet friend. I love you. pic.twitter.com/Ia4tg1VK1Y
— Mario Cantone (@macantone) September 22, 2021
Willie was a prince, the Mayor of every group he ever existed within, and – most importantly – a parent. My heart grieves for his son.
A consumate funny man. Bless you. https://t.co/8ssxxG69tU
— Evan Handler (@EvanHandler) September 22, 2021
Others in Hollywood, including many who worked alongside him, mourned his passing as well.
This breaks my heart. Willie Garson, a friend who loved me at my worst, (and always let me know it) is gone. Goodbye, Fatty. I love you always. https://t.co/Cow3esS0YB
— Julie Bowen (@itsJulieBowen) September 21, 2021
I’ve known Willie Garson for so long, most of our photos together are in albums. He was the best person to travel with, a great gambler, my favorite person to eat mediocre food with and an amazing father. Sending love to his family and fellow friends. Godspeed, buddy. Love you. pic.twitter.com/vbPvZwVdUo
— Jonathan Goldman (@akjakalope) September 22, 2021
One of many fundraisers I did with my friend. We both felt so lucky we got to adopt. Willie Garson worked from his heart, which lives on in his son. God bless you Willie. You raised a child and brought laughter into our lives too. Rest in peace. You did well. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/s2zjyDp8lg
— Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) September 22, 2021
I’m in a state of shock. I can not believe Willie Garson has left us. This is horribly sad news and I am heartbroken for his son and family.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) September 22, 2021
The wonderful Willie Garson has left us. A dear, funny, kind man and delightful actor. Too soon. Rest well. #ripwilliegarson
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) September 22, 2021
Sending love to @WillieGarson’s son Nathen. Your dad was strong and respected in his community of fellow actors and his philanthropy was constant and committed. I’m grateful I knew him. He was also really really funny.❤️
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) September 22, 2021
— Mary McCormack (@marycmccormack) September 22, 2021
— Dulé Hill (@DuleHill) September 21, 2021
Heart breaking! I can't believe this hilarious, talented, & kind soul has left this world. God I had a blast working with Willie Garson on an episode of #CSI Rest in peace sweet Willie. 💔 https://t.co/hbyLM8dZaA
— Marg Helgenberger (@MargHelgen) September 22, 2021
WHAT A DELIGHT IT WAS TO WORK WITH WILLIE GARSON AS DICK DICKER ON PUSHING DAISIES – HE WAS ALWAYS IN ON THE JOKE AND WILL BE MISSED BY SO MANY. R.I.P. WILLIE. pic.twitter.com/y6OvGPrUfw
— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) September 22, 2021
So sad to hear about Willie Garson. He had several all-time great gay lines on Sex and the City that we've quoted dozens of times over the years, this one the most: pic.twitter.com/m9ae1dbHKj
— Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) September 22, 2021
Soon “RIP Stanford” was trending.
RIP Stanford ….. you always reminded me at a young age to live fearlessly, fabulously, and fiercely from your character on SATC as a young gay male! Thank you ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xODeA5xXY1
— Paris Chea (@ParisChea) September 22, 2021
Oh noooo RIP Stanford Blatch. pic.twitter.com/77SLdQo6Kq
— Emily St. Martin (@ByEmilyStMartin) September 22, 2021
Some seized upon Garson’s final tweet, in which he wrote, simply, “BE KIND TO EACH OTHER……ALWAYS. LOVE TO ALL. APRROACH KINDNESS.”
Thank you, Willie Garson, for this final tweet. https://t.co/trm8A1O4tT
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) September 22, 2021
RIP Willie Garson.