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‘Blue Bloods’ Star Len Cariou’s Wife of 35 Years Was Never the Same after Her Hard Family Loss

Gracious Egedegbe
Nov 15, 2021
07:30 A.M.

"Blue Bloods" actor Len Cariou enjoys a beautiful marriage with his wife Heather Summerhayes Cariou, who suffered a tragic family loss that changed her life forever.

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Len Cariou is a Canadian actor and stage director best known for playing Sweeney Todd in the original cast of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in the film.

Len is also famous for portraying the patriarch Henry Reagan, retired NYPD Police Commissioner, in the generational TV series "Blue Bloods."

Actor Len Cariou's wife Heather Summerhayes Cariou. [Left] | Len Cariou on an episode of TV series Blue Blood. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images

Actor Len Cariou's wife Heather Summerhayes Cariou. [Left] | Len Cariou on an episode of TV series Blue Blood. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images

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Born on September 30, 1939, Len has Broadway acting credits for his roles in these productions: "Dance a Little Closer" in 1983; "Teddy & Alice" in 1987; "The Speed of Darkness" in 1991; "The Dinner Party" in 2000; "Proof" in 2002.

Besides acting, he also directed the 1975 Broadway show "Don't Call Back." In 2018, Len produced and starred in a one-man show titled "Broadway & The Bard An Evening of Shakespeare and Song."

In 2019, Len began starring in George Eastman's Off Broadway play "Harry Townsend's Last Stand," which is about life's final stretch and the wrenching decisions that come with it.

Len Cariou on in New York City on September 12, 2016. | Photo: Getty Images

Len Cariou on in New York City on September 12, 2016. | Photo: Getty Images

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The show starred Len alongside Craig Bierko, who played his son. However, after Bierko's run on the show ended and producers replaced him with David Lansbury, it was reported that Len refused to rehearse with the replacement.

His actions caused the show to close prematurely. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and the legendary theater star agreed to return to filming.

There is no denying that Len loves the theatre and his career. It was visible to the eyes during his interview with Geraint Wyn Davies in which he discussed his career in Stratford, on Broadway, and beyond.

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Len also spoke at BroadwayCon 2020 and talked about some of his career experiences and some of the people he has worked with.

A video of his debut at 54 Below in 2012 is available on Sandi Durell's TheaterPizzazz YouTube page. The incredible performance, which saw him recount his remarkable career in story and song, was enough evidence that Len is indeed Broadway royalty.

However, despite his laudable career achievements, there is nothing more precious to Len than his relationship with his wife, Heather Summerhayes Cariou.

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Len and Heather tied the knot on October 25, 1986, and have been going strong since then. The marriage was not his first, as he was previously married to Susan Barbara Kapilow and Patricia Otter.

Len enjoys going to the theatre with his beautiful wife of 35 years, who is an actress and producer. Heather is known for "The Wars" (1983) and "Another Day Gone" (2015).

Heather's writing was interrupted by periods when she mourned her sister and her job as a "roadie" to her husband.

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Besides going to the theatre together, Len and Heather also enjoy spending time with friends and exploring their neighborhood in New Jersey.

Len and Heather have a beautiful love story with a tragic background. Heather was only six years old when her younger sister, Pam, then four years old, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and given only months to live.

Little Pam pronounced her disease as "Sixtyfive roses." Her diagnosis forever altered her parents' and siblings' lives, but they, in turn, helped to change the way their community responded to the disease by setting up the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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With the Foundation's help, efforts were made to save Pam's life. These efforts included research and new treatments, and the battle to save her life lasted for years. Unfortunately, Pam died at 26.

Heather continues to speak and write about her sister and tell her beautiful story. She authored the memoir "Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister's Memoir," which offered a compassionate yet unflinching firsthand account of her family's hope, pain, and courage as they endured Pam's suffering.

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The heart of Heather's memoir explored her relationship with her sister as they journeyed through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

Pam's final moments were spent instructing her sister on what to do after she died. While struggling for breath, she urged Heather to tell the world what they lived through together.

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Heather agreed to do just that, but her words were not enough for Pam as she asked her to promise. Heather promised her dying sister she would tell their story. Immediately she did so, Pam died.

It took Heather over two decades to fulfill the promise she made to her sister. She spent most of those years struggling to come to terms with life after Pam's death.

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Heather met Len after her sister's death. He was working at the Stratford Festival and met her through a mutual friend. But then, she was not interested in dating anyone. Also, Len was dating actress Glenn Close at the time.

When he met Heather, he asked her to tell him something about herself. She told him she lost her sister about six months ago, got divorced four months ago, and was going on a white-water rafting trip in Oregon even though she could not swim.

After hearing Heather's words, Len told her to call him if she ever got back from her trip, and she did. When she called him, he had already ended his relationship with Close. They started dating and have been together ever since.

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In 1983, Heather went to New York to be with Len even though she could not work in the US. She talked to him about her promise to Pam and confessed that she was terrified about writing. However, Len told her:

"You have everything you need to write this book, and what you don't have I'll support you with."

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He kept to his word and bought her an IBM Selectric and some paper. The book took 20 years to complete. At the start of the writing journey, she met her mentor and writing coach June Gould at a workshop.

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Then, she did not have a book but just her late sister's desire to have her write it. Heather showed Gould the book's first few paragraphs and was very nervous as she did not believe she had any talent. However, Gould could immediately see that she was talented.

Heather found support in Gould, the Women's International Writing Gould, and her husband, Len, who never rushed or asked her to justify her creative existence. Also, he never pressured her.

Heather's writing was interrupted by periods when she mourned her sister and her job as a "roadie" to her husband when he had acting gigs that took him away from home.

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Finally, she completed the memoir, whose cover features a photo-booth snapshot of her and Pam in their early 20s. The snapshot showed the sisters with bright eyes and wide smiles. Heather told NJ.com:

"You know, a friend of mine was talking to me about the book, and he said maybe I was thinking that when I finished it, I'd have to say goodbye to Pam."

Instead of saying goodbye to Pam, Heather feels their relationship is stronger than ever. Also, she feels her younger sister is with her.

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