b. 30 September 1939, St. Boniface, Manitoba, Canada. Gaining his early stage experience in his homeland, Cariou became a much sought after player of dramatic and musical comedy roles. In 1968 he went to New York City for his American debut, playing in the Broadway production of The House Of Atreus, which was directed by Tyrone Guthrie. The following year he took the lead in William Shakespeare’s King Henry V, an American National Theatre and Academy production. In striking contrast, he followed this with the role of Bill Sampson in the 1970 production of Applause, in which he played opposite Lauren Bacall. The quality of his acting and singing in this show was recognized when he was nominated for a Tony Award. Three years later another Tony nomination came for his performance as Fredrick Egerman in the successful Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. In 1977 he played a straight dramatic role in Cold Storage, then reprised his role as Fredrick Egerman in the critically derided film version of A Little Night Music. Back on Broadway in 1979, Cariou played the lead in another Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd, co-starring with Angela Lansbury. His acclaimed performance brought him a Tony Award as Best Actor In A Musical. He played more Broadway roles in the 80s, although in somewhat lesser vehicles, among them being Dance A Little Closer (1983) and Teddy And Alice (1987), in which he played Theodore Roosevelt.
In the 90s and beyond Cariou moved comfortably between stage and screen and back again. On the stage, he played in The Speed Of Darkness (1991), The Dinner Party (2000), and Proof (2001). On the big screen he appeared in Executive Decision (1996) and About Schmidt (2002), while his television performances include supporting roles in The Practice, The West Wing, and Murder, She Wrote, the latter reuniting him with Lansbury.