Longest-Reigning ‘King Richard,’ Thomas Epstein, Passes Away
CARVER — The king is dead, long live the king.
Heavy are the hearts in Carvershire today, as the king has passed away. Thomas Epstein, the longest-reigning king in the history of King Richard’s Faire, died Wednesday evening.
He was 62.
King Richard’s Faire management announced Epstein’s passing with a message on the Faire’s Facebook page:
“It is with a tremendously heavy heart that we must bid a final farewell to Thomas Epstein, our wonderful and benevolent King Richard X (2002-2018), who passed away last evening on September 30, 2020.
Tom will be greatly missed by our amazing cast, ew, artisans, staff and of course patrons. We wish his family peace and loving memories during this time of extreme sadness.
Bonnie Harris Shaprio, producer
And Aimée Shapiro Sedley, General Manager/Co-Producer”
Epstein began playing King Richard X in 2002, after portraying Bob Crumpet, the royal cook, for eight years. A story was concocted for his coronation that he as the cook was actually the rightful heir to the throne. When Epstein became ill after the 2018 season, he stepped down as king and returned to the Crumpet role, working the knife-throwing booth.
Epstein became a year-round resident of Carver during his reign as king and was beloved by all of his loyal subjects during his many seasons on the throne.
Dartmouth’s Brock Cordeiro first began working with Epstein at King Richard’s Faire in 2015.
“He was the absolute best of the best,” Cordeiro said. “From the moment I first met him as a newbie villager, and here was His Majesty introducing himself during rehearsals, I was both instantly star-struck and instantly put totally at ease and welcomed by his grace.”
“Tom was an amazing person. He was friendly, kind and always took the time to stop and talk. Every time I saw him at the Faire, he had a smile on his face,” said Chris Christopulos, Director of Operations for King Richard’s Faire. “Our son was his cupbearer one year and really enjoyed working with him. We will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Epstein’s humble demeanor resonated in the way he portrayed King Richard, as a benevolent monarch who cared deeply for each and every one of his subjects because, friends say, that’s exactly who he was in real life. His infectious smile became synonymous with King Richard’s Faire, adorning billboards across New England.
“Tom had one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen in a person. He would literally give the shirt off his back to anyone who might have needed it,” Ses Carny, longtime KRF performer in the “Torture Show,” wrote in a Facebook post. “He portrayed King Richard as a strong and stoic man, but truth be told, now and again, you could see him light up with a child and be the fun person that he truly was.”
“He was really a big kid under it all,” Carny wrote.
God save the king.