Some actors are too good for stardom.
Eli Wallach, who died Tuesday at 98 after a long and distinguished career on stage and screen, was at the top of my list of the best actors I've encountered in the theater — a striking fact given that I was born too late to have seen him in his heyday.
But his intelligence as a dramatic player — his power to illuminate a character at the service of a script — was radioactive even in work that was inferior to his prodigious talent. His brilliance as a widower in "Visiting Mr. Green" elevated a lightweight off-Broadway drama to something unforgettably moving.
Wallach received many awards, including a Tony for his 1951...