"I don't know"

Joseph Chaikin died on Sunday at his home in Greenwich Village.

The great actor and creative director had lived for years with the burden of a congenital heart disease, but this weekend he finally had to leave the boards. His sister, the actress Shami Chaikin, who was with him when he died, reports, in today's NYTimes obituary, how he worked up to the end. He was in Philadelphia auditioning actors on thursday and friday, and he was supposed to have a meeting in his home yesterday.

"He always felt he had to work," Shami Chaikin said. But over the weekend, she added, he felt weak and thought he might have to use a wheelchair. "Everything started to fail," she said. He took a sleeping pill and went to bed, and awoke with distress. She said she asked him what was wrong.

"I don't know," he said. She said those were his last words and he spoke them questioningly, almost analytically, as if trying to understand his role.

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Published on June 24, 2003 1:10 PM.

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