Michael Lerner, the curious Oscar-nominated character actor who had memorable turns as the bombastic type Barton Fink, Harlem Attic Nights, Eight people from and you perished all the more. He was 81.
Lerner died Saturday night, according to No instagram post * from his nephew Sam Lerner, who is also an actor;The Goldbergs). The cause of death was immediately known.
“It’s hard to put into words how wonderful my uncle Michael was, and how much he meant to me,” Sam wrote. “These stories always inspired me and made me love acting. He was a very cool, confident, talented guy, and because it was my blood I always felt special. Anyone who knows him knows very well how crazy he is.
Raised in a Brooklyn housing project as the son of a junk dealer, Lerner excelled at playing authority figures such as cops, crooks, politicians and Hollywood tycoons. “He laid on these characters a hare, a thin skin of bonhomie over a turgid natural corruptor,” how is it The guard once described.
Before arriving in Hollywood, Lerner appeared in an experimental film directed by one-time London housemate Ono Ono, then played a voiceover for Robert Redford’s character in Michael Ritchie’s candidate (1972).
He turned heads when he portrayed White House press secretary Peter Salinger in a 1974 ABC telefilm October missiles and as the killer Jack Ruby in the 1978 CBS docudrama Ruby and Oswald.
In Bob Rafelson redo of The latter always rings twice (1981), Lerner was the attorney for Jessica Lange’s character (Hume Cronyn’s attorney in the 1946 original). And Lerner also opposite Anthony Hopkins and John Cusack in Alan Parker’s The road to Wellville (1994) and with Allison Janney in Todd Solondz’s Life Through Wartime (2009).
The actor also played a book called the publisher Fulton Greenway dryad (2003), a New York City mayor named for Roger Ebert in the reformation of Roland Emmerich Godzilla (1998) and US senators poster boy (2004) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
Lerner auditioned for the part of Det. Dave Starsky on ABC’s Starsky and Hutch (Paul Michael Glaser got the job, of course) and stuck around as low-life criminal Fat Rolly in the first two episodes.
He was later advertised as a rabbi on NBC’s Hill Street Blues; Mel Horowitz, a Beverly Hills lawyer and father of Cher (Rachel Blanchard), in the first season of the ABC adaptation. helpless; and Sidney Greene, the Broadway performer who ascended the revival A funny girlin Fox’s happy.
Lerner received his Oscar nomination for his performance as Daredevil 1930s studio mogul Jack Lipnick in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Barton Fink (1991). He had heard that it had not been hired before for his brothers Miller’s passage — but this time he came with purpose.
“They said it was a Michael Lerner type character, but I didn’t have it until the last minute,” he said Cigar Aficionado magazine in a 1999 interview. “I came in, and he was laughing like crazy. I heard the behavior, a thousand miles a minute. Joel and Ethan Coen were on the ground, laughing and shouting in hysterics, and I just walked away. I went in, I made the first big talk and I went out.
Lipnick is based on the legendary bachelor work of Louis B. Mayer. “I looked at a lot of documentary footage, I picked out a pair of glasses that looked exactly like what he was wearing, and I picked up each and every character in them.” he said. “It’s fun for an actor to do.”
Some time ago, Lerner made his mark on the rake of Arnold Rothstein, the architect of baseball’s 1919 “Sox” offense in John Sayles’ Eight people from (1988), then he played the hard-blooded gangster Bugsy Calhoun for Eddie Murphy in Harlem Attic Nights (1989).
In 1992 the conference was NPR’s New skiesHe told Terry Gross that one of the best films he ever made was a horror film produced in Spain distress (1987), in which he portrayed an ophthalmologist’s assistant who is hypnotized by his mother (Zelda Rubinstein) into going on a killing spree in order to save his deteriorating eyesight.
“I was told by my managers at the time not to do that because he was so flattered,” he said. “I played a really nasty character, but it was great.” [role].
Born on June 22, 1941, Lerner was raised in a tenement house in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook. The father, George, “thinks he’s an antiques dealer, but he’s actually a junk dealer,” he said.
Sports nut Lerner appeared as a “quiz kid” at age 13 on a local TV program by sportscaster Bert Lee Jr., who was then the sports editor of the school newspaper at Lafayette High School. To help support his family, he worked at the Zei-Mar delicatessen, which his older brother owned, in Brighton Beach.
Lerner attended Brooklyn College (he was a classmate of future principal Joel Zwick) and Willy Loman in production Death of a SalesmanHe got his master’s from UC Berkeley. He intended to become an English professor, but accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to study theater for two years at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art.
He shared a house with Ono in London. He said he was caught walking on a treadmill with his donkey naked. “I am in it and Paul is mine. I do more narration about censorship and all that shit.
He joined the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 1968, then moved to Los Angeles a year later to appear in an off-Broadway hit production of Julia Feiffer. Small Murders. Paul Mazursky, a Brooklyn-born filmmaker, loved him Alex in Wonderland (1970), starring Donald Sutherland and Ellen Burstyn.
Meanwhile, Lerner did such TV shows in the “70s” as The Brady Bunch (a fan playing a bicycle) That girl, The Odd Couple, iron side, The Bob Newhart Show, M*A*S*H, Rockford Archives and kojak.
After his turn as HAPPY Salinger, John F. Kennedy’s journalist during the Cuban Missile Crisis, he received a handsome tribute from former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. “I met” [her] at a jazz concert at Carnegie Hall and said, ‘Mr. Lerner, of Pierre’d Pierre, which I thought was very funny”, he recalled in 2016. AV Club conference.
For Knights of HarlemLerner noted, “Murphy worshiped me like crazy.” [Producers] Robert Duvall wanted to play the part. I heard Eddie twice, and he said, No way, he wants me. He had a lot of potential, so he got the job.
In the 1980s’ TV movies, Lerner starred in the Golden Age of Royal Studios’ Jack Warner This year Blonde and Harry Cohn in Marcus Hayworth: Goddess Love before the port on Barton Fink. Even though Jack Palance lost Oscar night City SlickersHe could not complain.
“I was a talented actor for about 20 years, and suddenly I named everything and my money went up!” he said. He appeared for Coens again A serious man (2009).
Lerner’s big-picture summary also includes breaking (1974). Saints go (1976). new arrivals (1983). maniac cop 2 (1990). Newsies (1992). Amos & Andrew (1993). You will not escape (1994). Radioland Massacre (1994). For richer or poorer (1997). Salvus Men (1998), Woody Allen’s Celebrities (1998). The story of the Mummy (1998). Mod Squad (1999). My Favorite Martian (1999). Mirror Mirror (2012) and Sidney J. Furie’s I drove to Vegas on Tuesday (2018).
And in 2002, he played an art collector in the West End production Until Grabscruel Madonna
When it was not working, Lerner collected rare books in 2012, he put two editions of 1665 up for auction. Aesop’s Fables among other valuable works—he enjoyed Cuban cigars.
“There’s a strong argument to be made about the physiological and mental peace” that comes with a good stogie, he said. “No one comes to my house between 5 and 6 o’clock. This is when I swim naked, read art and smoke cigars.”
He was also part of a regular cast with the likes of Charles Bronson, Richard Dreyfuss, Jason Alexander, Ed Asner, Milton Berle, Richard Lewis and actor Norby Walters.
Survivors include a younger brother, Ken Lerner, and a nephew, Sam Lerner — both of whom were on the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs and niece Jenny Lerner, also an actress.
In his AV Club interview, Lerner said he liked the director who liked what he brought to the table.
“If the director comes to me and says, “Too big, too small,” he says. “But my interpretation of the character is instinct. If the director doesn’t like my interpretation, then there is a problem.”