Ted D'Arms, actor, director, artist, who frequently appeared in productions at Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre and Empty Space Theatre, died Sunday at age 74.

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For many years, Seattle actor, director and artist Ted D’Arms had a favorite holiday ritual.

“We would invite 100 friends over to hear Ted read ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ” recalled his ex-wife and close friend Julie Blacklow. “No one could read a story like Ted did. By the time he got to the last line, ‘God bless us everyone,’ people were weeping.”

Mr. D’Arms died Sunday at his Seattle home of congestive heart failure. He was 74 and had been in ill health for several years.

This Christmas, friends and colleagues will be mourning his death but also fondly remembering the outsize personality and talents of an erudite extrovert who made his mark in many roles as a leading player at Seattle Repertory Theatre and who also appeared at Empty Space Theatre, ACT Theater and other local playhouses.

“I regard him as a dear friend and a colleague but also a mentor,” said fellow actor Frank Corrado. “Just after I came to Seattle, I was in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with him. On the first day of rehearsals this large, gregarious, marvelous man came up to me and said, ‘I’m Ted D’Arms and I think we’re going to be friends.’ “

Blacklow likened Mr. D’Arms to the boisterous Shakespearean character, Sir John Falstaff. “Ted was, like Falstaff, a robust guy — big, with big laughter, a big heart, a confrontational and brilliant man, and the smartest person I’ve ever known.”

Born in Colorado and reared in New Jersey, Mr. D’Arms moved to Seattle in the 1960s. In addition to appearing in live theater, he was in several movies shot in the Northwest, including “Drugstore Cowboy” and “Cinderella Liberty.”

With his imposing stage presence and deep, resonant voice, Mr. D’Arms was easily cast in a wide range of dramas and comedies. Two productions among his personal favorites were the backstage farce, “Noises Off” and the absurdist classic “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” both at Seattle Rep.

In the 1990s, Mr. D’Arms turned away from acting to focus on visual art.

“He had always been a very accomplished landscape photographer, and then he started painting large canvases in oil,” Blacklow said. His photography work was displayed in local galleries. Mr. D’Arms also wrote essays for a book of photographs by noted Northwest photographer Mary Randlett.

Mr. D’Arms is survived by his son, Keet D’Arms, of Atlanta, the child from his marriage to Ellie Trotter, of Arizona; and by a brother, Phillip D’Arms, who lives on the East Coast.

A memorial service will be held at ACT Theatre, sometime in January.

In lieu of flowers, Blacklow suggests making a contribution in Mr. D’Arms’ memory to ACT or Seattle Rep.