Charles Grodin, the quirky, unconventional actor and writer who appeared as the Caddish newlyweds in « The Heartbreak Kid » and later had roles ranging from Robert De Niro’s counterpart in the comic book thriller « Midnight Run » to the vicious father in the “Beethoven” comedies, has died. He was 86 years old.
Grodin died Tuesday of bone marrow cancer with him in Wilton, Connecticut, said his son Nicholas Grodin.
Known for his dead style and mundane appearance, Grodin also appeared in » Dave, « The Woman in Red, » « Rosemary’s Baby » and « Heaven Can Wait » on. On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn in the long-running comedy « Same Time, Next Year » from the 1970s and found many other outlets for his talent.
In the 1990s, he made his mark as a liberal commentator on radio and television Names. He also wrote plays and television scripts, won an Emmy for his work on a 1997 Paul Simon special, and wrote several books humorously reflecting on his ups and downs in show business.
Actors, he wrote, should » don’t think so much about getting ahead, but getting the best you can so that you will be ready when you get the chance. » I did this so that I wouldn’t suffer from the frustration of all rejections. They just gave me more time. He formulated this advice in his first book « It would be so nice if you weren’t here », which was published in 1989.
Grodin became a star in the 1970s, but could have had a breakthrough years earlier: He spoke for featured the title role in Mike Nichols’ « The Graduate, » which came out in 1967. But the part for what became the classic went to Dustin Hoffman instead.
Grodin had a small role on « Rosemary’s Baby » and was part of the large cast of Nichols’ adaptation of « Catch-22 » before he The 1972 Elaine May comedy « The Heartbreak Kid » saw him starring as a newlyweds Jewish couple who leave their comically neurotic bride to pursue a beautiful, wealthy blonde played by Cybill Shepherd. The film was a hit and Grodin received high praise. He commented, « After I saw the film, a lot of people came up to me to punch my nose. »
Over the next few years, Grodin starred in an elaborate film remake of « King Kong » in 1976 greedy showman who brings the great ape to New York. (The World Trade Center replaced the Empire State Building at its height.) He was Warren Beatty’s devious lawyer in « Heaven Can Wait » and Gene Wilder’s friend in « The Woman in Red » (He appeared less successfully in the May 1987 adventure comedy ) « Ishtar », a notorious flop).
In 1988 « Midnight Run », Grodin was an accountant who stole millions from a gangster, and De Niro was the bounty hunter who tried to get him cross-country to Los Angeles. They are followed by the police, another bounty hunter and the mob, and because Grodin is afraid of flying, they have to drive by car, bus or even freight wagon.
« Beethoven » brought him success in 1992 in the Family Animal Comedy Genre. When asked why he took on such a role, he told The Associated Press that he was glad he got the job.
« I’m not in demand, » Grodin replied. « It’s not that I have this stack of wonderful offers. I’m just glad they wanted me. »
Amid his film appearances, Grodin became a familiar face on late night television and perfected a character who Johnny Carson or others confronted a false aggressiveness that made the audience flinch and laugh at the same time.
« It’s all a joke, » he told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. « It’s just one thing. It was a decision to do that. »
His biggest stage hit by far was Same Time, Next Year, which opened on Broadway in 1975 and lasted almost three and a half years. Him and Burstyn were two people who, despite being happily married, meet once a year in the same hotel for an extra-marital get-together. Beyond the humor, the play has been praised for bringing about the changes in their lives and society from the 1950s to the 1950s « A monument to male insecurity, gloriously incompetent. » Critic Clive Barnes called Grodin’s character « a monument to male insecurity, gloriously incompetent. » Talk show on CNBC cable. He switched to MSNBC and then to CBS ‘ »60 Minutes II ».
In his 2002 book « I Like You Better When You’re Funny, » he said that too many television programmers believe are that viewers will be best served « if we only hear from lifelong journalists ». He argued that « people outside Washington and in jobs other than journalism » deserved a soap box too.
In 2006 he returned to the big screen as Zach Braff’s know-it-all in « The Ex ». Newer credits are the films « An Imperfect Murder » and « The Comedian » as well as the TV series « Louie ».
Grodin was born in Pittsburgh in 1935 as Charles Grodinsky, the son of a wholesaler of dry goods Years old. He played basketball and later described himself as « a rough kid who got kicked out of class. »
He studied at the University of Miami and the Pittsburgh Playhouse, worked in summer theater, and then fought in New York. He worked as a taxi driver, postal worker and security guard at night while studying drama during the day.
Grodin made his Broadway debut in 1962 and received good reviews in « Tchin Tchin, » a three-digit play starring Anthony Quinn. He followed in 1964 with « Absence of a Cellos ».
He co-wrote and directed a short-lived off-Broadway show from 1966 entitled « Hurray! It’s a lovely day … and all of that. « That same year he made his film debut in a low-budget flop called Sex and the College Girl.
In 1969, Grodin showed his early interest in politics by helping write and directing Songs of America , a TV special with Simon and Garfunkel that contained civil rights and anti-war messages, but the original sponsor withdrew, and Simon later called the little-noticed effort « a tragedy. »
Simon returned in 1977 with a special that featured the Faked show business and named Grodin as the show’s awkward producer. Grodin and his co-writers won Emmys.
Grodin and his first wife Julia Ferguson had a daughter, comedian Marion Grodin. The marriage ended in divorce his second wife, Elissa Durwood, had a son, Nicholas.
The late AP Entertainment writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this story
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