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Broadway star Clifton Oliver, who starred in The Lion King, dies at 47

  • Oliver died Wednesday following a long illness
  • His sister said he had been in hospital and then hospice over the last six weeks
  • In addition to starring on Broadway, he had roles in major touring productions 

Clifton Oliver, a stage veteran who appeared in Broadway productions of The Lion King, Wicked and In The Heights, died on Wednesday at the age of 47.

He had been suffering from a lengthy illness at the time of his death, which was announced on social media by his friends and family.

In her announcement of his tragic death, his sister Roxy Hall shared that Oliver had been first hospitalized and then transferred to hospice care in the final six weeks of his life.

‘My baby brother, Clifton Oliver, has had his final curtain call,’ she began her emotional Facebook post, adding that his death was ‘peaceful.’

‘His partner Richard was singing to him the song Psalm 23 as he took his last breath this morning at 3:20 AM,’ she continued.

Theatre star: Clifton Oliver, a Broadway veteran, died on Wednesday at the age of 47; pictured in 2014 in Chicago
Leading man: Oliver appeared in Broadway productions of The Lion King, Wicked and In The Heights, and he also was featured in major touring productions and acted on stage in LA; pictured in 2015

‘My heart is sad, and overjoyed at the same time! I will miss him, but he is finally at peace!’ Hall gushed. ‘He brought so much light to this world! He brought so much light to my life! 

‘He impacted the lives of people throughout the world as he showcased his amazing talent, kind soul, and loving spirit to EVERYONE he met!’ she wrote, adding, ‘He will be missed, but never forgotten!’

Oliver hailed from Jacksonville, Florida, where he was a student at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

He later moved to New York to pursue his passion for acting in 2010.

Oliver had roles in perennial Broadway hits right off the bat, include an ensemble part in Wicked, where he also served as an understudy for the character Fiyero, according to Playbill.

It was a major year for the rising star, as he also played the role of Benny in In The Heights, with Jordin Sparks playing his love interest Nina in that production.

Both were replacements after the original casts had moved on.

One of Oliver’s other high-profile roles was as the adult Simba in the theatrical version of The Lion King.

Health struggles: Oliver’s sister Roxy Hall wrote that he had been in the hospital and then hospice over the past six weeks as he battled a long illness
A star right out of the gate: After moving to New York to focus on acting in 2010, he joined the cast of In The Heights as Benny, with Jordin Sparks (R) playing his love interest Nina
Regal role: Oliver also played Simba in the Las Vegas production of The Lion King, before joining the touring production and graduating to the Broadway version in 2011; pictured with (L–R) Chauntee Schuler, Tshidi Manye and Liam Neeson
On the move: Oliver also was in Off-Broadway productions of Bella: An American Tall Tale and Miracle Brothers, plus touring productions of Dream Girls and Motown The Musical; seen with Sparks in 2010 in NYC

He began playing the role in the musical’s Las Vegas production, before joining the national touring production and eventually graduating to the Broadway version of the show in 2011. 

Oliver was also a fixture in Off-Broadway plays, including Bella: An American Tall Tale and Miracle Brothers.

He got a chance to show off his impressive musical skills in touring productions of Dream Girls and Motown The Musical, in which he had the lead role as Motown founder Berry Gordy. 

Oliver is survived by his partner Richard, as well as his sister Roxy and his brothers Eddie and Johnathan Oliver.

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