“I just knew I belonged there,” Mr. Constantine told Odyssey, an English-language magazine about Greek life, in 2011. “They could make fun of this hick from Pennsylvania, but I just belong here — this is me.”
The young Mr. Constantine studied acting with Howard da Silva, supporting himself with odd jobs, among them night watchman and shooting-gallery barker. He became an understudy to Paul Muni playing the character modeled on the famed defense lawyer Clarence Darrow in “Inherit the Wind,” which opened on Broadway in 1955.
In “Compulsion” — a 1957 Broadway dramatization of Meyer Levin’s novel about the Leopold and Loeb murder case — Mr. Constantine took over the role of the defense lawyer from Frank Conroy just before opening night. (Mr. Conroy withdrew after suffering a heart attack during previews.)
“Michael Constantine gives an excellent performance as the prototype of Clarence Darrow,” Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times. “He avoids the sentimentality that the situations might easily evoke and plays with taste, deliberation, color and intelligence.”
Mr. Constantine’s other Broadway credits include Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in the original cast of “The Miracle Worker” (1959), and Dogsborough in Bertolt Brecht’s antifascist satire “Arturo Ui” (1963).
Mr. Constantine’s first marriage, to the actress Julianna McCarthy, ended in divorce, as did his second, to Kathleen Christopher. His survivors include two sisters: Patricia Gordon and Chris Dobbs, his agent said. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
For all Mr. Constantine’s credits, for all his critical acclaim, it was for a single role — and for a single prop wielded in the course of that role — that he seems destined to be remembered.
“I can’t tell you,” he said in a 2014 interview with his hometown paper, The Reading Eagle, “how many times I’ve autographed a Windex bottle.”
Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.