Charles Grodin, who brought a grumpy, harassed style to the screen and stole almost every scene he was in, has died. He was 86.
Born Charles Sidney Grodin in Pittsburgh in 1935, Grodin dropped out of the University of Miami to start studying acting under Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg. In 1959, he made his Broadway in Tchin-Tchin. Through the years, he’d go on to have a successful stage career, and stepped up to direct plays such as Hooray! It’s A Glorious Day…And All That, which he also co-wrote.
On the small screen, he made guest appearances in a variety of TV series early on, including The Defenders, The Virginian, and more, recently, Madoff. Grodin also had his own talk show, The Charles Grodin Show, which in turn led to a career as a political commentator.
But it’s for his cinema work that fans know him best. After getting his start with an uncredited role in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, he appeared a run of eclectic films, including Rosemary’s Baby, Catch-22 and his big break, the original 1972 version of The Heartbreak Kid. Known as an irascible character actor, he also worked on movies including Heaven Can Wait, The Great Muppet Caper, The Woman In Red, Beethoven, Dave, and, most recently, An Imperfect Murder. But perhaps his finest performance came in 1988, as mob accountant Jonathan Mardukas in Midnight Run, who must be begrudgingly protected by bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro). The pair’s squabbling, sweary exchanges have made the film a perpetual favourite on Best Comedy lists.
Grodin reportedly died at his home today. He’s survived by his wife of 38 years, author Elissa Durwood Grodin, their son Nicholas, daughter-in-law Aubrey and granddaughter Geneva, and daughter Marion by a previous marriage.