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Thread: Charles Grodin, Deliciously Droll Actor, Dies at 86

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    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Default Charles Grodin, Deliciously Droll Actor, Dies at 86

    Source: Hollywood Reporter

    Charles Grodin, Deliciously Droll Actor, Dies at 86



    "Low key but high strung," as he described himself, he starred in 'The Heartbreak Kid,' 'Midnight Run' and 'Heaven Can Wait.'

    Actor Charles Grodin, who charmed audiences with his droll, understated and awkward humor in such films as The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run and the Beethoven movies, has died. He was 86.
    Grodin died Tuesday of bone marrow cancer at his home in Wilton, Connecticut, his son, Nicholas, told The New York Times.
    Grodin invigorated Neil Simon’s Seems Like Old Times (1980) when he portrayed an ambitious D.A. whose wife (Goldie Hawn) and life are distracted and disrupted when her ex-husband (Chevy Chase) plops into their straight-laced marriage.

    On the flip side, the Pittsburgh native brought a duplicitous guile to a positive character in Sunburn (1979), playing an insurance investigator who poses as a tourist while investigating a murder.

    In Albert Brooks’ mockumentary of a typical American family, Real Life (1979), Grodin’s deadpan portrayal of the veterinarian husband and father of two layered in a vegetarian wackiness to the satire.
    Grodin’s characters occasionally displayed a sinister side. In King Kong (1976), he played the shady businessman who tries to cash in on the giant ape; two years later, he portrayed an oily lawyer in the screwball comedy remake Heaven Can Wait, starring Warren Beatty.
    Early in his career, Grodin was in the running to star as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967), then played an obstetrician in Rosemary’s Baby (1968).
    Grodin vaulted into the public eye in Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid (1972) when he starred as sporting goods salesman Lenny Cantrow, a caddish newlywed who falls for another woman (Cybill Shepherd) while on his Miami honeymoon.
    “I thought the character in The Heartbreak Kid was a despicable guy, but I play it with full sincerity,” he said in a 2009 interview with The A.V. Club. “My job isn’t to judge it. If it wasn’t for Elaine May, I probably would never have had that movie career.”
    Grodin perhaps peaked among mainstream movie audiences in 1988 when he starred opposite Robert De Niro in the action road comedy Midnight Run. As an accountant convicted of embezzlement and being transported cross-country to face justice, he eventually displays his overall decency along the way.
    Self-described as “low key but high strung,” Grodin often played uptight and cranky characters who ultimately were likable.


    He meshed those conflicted qualities in the popular family comedy Beethoven (1992) and its 1993 sequel as a pet-averse patriarch. Playing straight man to the family dog, a lumbering and lovable Saint Bernard, Grodin was appealingly twitchy.
    And in The Great Muppet Caper (1981), he starred as Nicky Holiday, a human suitor who rivaled Kermit the Frog for the affections of Miss Piggy.
    Cerebral, opinionated and always curious, Grodin from 1995-98 hosted an issue-oriented CNBC talk show and served as an Andy Rooney-style commentator for 60 Minutes II, delivering satirical perspectives on politics and social issues.
    He also was an accomplished talk show guest, adapting the persona of a peevish, picked-on person in front of Johnny Carson and David Letterman, and he starred and directed on Broadway.
    The youngest of two sons, Charles Grodin was born on April 21, 1935, and raised in the Highland Park section of Pittsburgh. His father owned a store that sold supplies like zippers, buttons and hangers to cleaners, tailors and dressmakers.
    Grodin was the valedictorian at Peabody High School — he was class president in each of his four years there — before he studied acting at the University of Miami and then, on a scholarship, at the Pittsburgh Playhouse School of Theatre.
    He appeared in summer stock and eventually headed to New York, where he studied with Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg. He said he often had questions for those legendary teachers.
    “I dared ask [Hagen,] ‘Why are we being asked to carry imaginary suitcases and open imaginary windows?’ he said in the A.V. Club interview. “She deeply resented the questioning, but she didn’t throw me out, she just threatened me for three years and was really abusive.”


    During the summer of 1960, Grodin performed various lead roles at the Woodstock Theater in upstate New York. He made his Broadway debut in Tchin-Tchin in 1962 opposite Anthony Quinn (when he took home $107 a week) and appeared in his first movie, Sex and the College Girl, in 1964.
    Grodin landed on the network soap operas Love of Life and The Young Marrieds (on the latter, Ted Knight played his boss), then was hired by Allen Funt as a “set-up” man on Candid Camera. He was fired from that show twice but rehired both times before quitting.
    Groden started landing one-off stints on TV shows including My Mother the Car, The F.B.I., Captain Nice, The Guns of Will Sonnett and The Big Valley before playing the icy Dr. Hill in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.
    He didn’t make the cut for Mike Nichols’ The Graduate — he balked at memorizing 30 pages of the script for his audition — but he did star for the director as Aarfy Aardvark in the adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1970).
    For Broadway, Grodin directed Lovers and Other Strangers, written by married couple Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna, in 1968 and then guided Marlo Thomas in the 1974-75 Herb Garner comedy Thieves. Three years later, he starred alongside Thomas in the 1978 movie adaptation.


    He won an Outer Circle Critics best actor award for his performance opposite Ellen Burstyn in Same Time, Next Year, which opened in March 1975 and ran for more than 1,400 performances through September 1978.
    His stage work also included writing One of the All Time Greats, about a Broadway disaster; The Price of Fame, in which he also starred as a whiny movie star; and The Right Kind of People, which centered on the richly screwy institution of Manhattan co-op boards.
    In the ’80s, Grodin was widely recognizable in mainstream, big-screen comedies. He played an unhappy bachelor in Steve Martin’s The Lonely Guy (1984) and appeared in It’s My Turn (1980), The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), The Woman in Red (1984), Last Resort (1986), May’s Ishtar (1987) and The Couch Trip (1988).
    He then played Kevin Kline’s nervous friend Murray Blum in the presidential comedy Dave (1993).
    Grodin won an Emmy in 1978 for co-writing NBC’s The Paul Simon Special, which championed the anti-establishment ethos of the era, and wrote and starred in the 1985 Hollywood-set feature Movers and Shakers.
    His body of work also includes such movies as Taking Care of Business (1990), Clifford (1994), The Humbling (2014) and Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young (2014), More recently, he appeared in ABC’s Madoff miniseries and on Louie.
    Grodin penned a column for the New York Daily News for nearly 10 years and wrote several books, including 1989’s It Would Be So Nice If You Weren’t Here, 1992’s How I Get Through Life, 1993’s Freddie the Fly and 2009’s How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am.
    Survivors also include a daughter, Marion.



    Source: Variety


    Charles Grodin, Star of ‘Heaven Can Wait,’ ‘Midnight Run,’ Dies at 86



    Charles Grodin, best known for the neurotic comic wit he demonstrated in such films as “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Heaven Can Wait” and “Midnight Run” and for his role in the “Beethoven” movies, died Tuesday at his home in Connecticut. He was 86.
    The New York Times reported that his son said he died of bone marrow cancer.
    After getting his start in television, Grodin graduated to both leading and character roles in motion pictures, usually portraying the exasperated urban neurotic. His dry, understated sense of humor also made him a perfect talkshow guest, and later, host of his own cable show. Grodin also wrote plays and books.
    The wry 1972 comedy “The Heartbreak Kid,” written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May, highlighted Grodin’s trademark neurotic befuddlement, and won him a Golden Globe nomination. But it was one of the few successful films in his career in which he was center stage.Another one of his better comic assignments was Warren Beatty’s 1978 “Heaven Can Wait,” in which Grodin, playing the scheming, larcenous lawyer, was paired humorously with Dyan Cannon’s character in adultery and homicide. But he was definitely a supporting player in the film, which starred Beatty and Julie Christie.
    The film in which Grodin’s talents were perhaps best utilized was Martin Brest’s 1988 adventure comedy “Midnight Run,” in which he starred opposite Robert De Niro. Roger Ebert said: “De Niro is often said to be the best movie actor of his generation. Grodin has been in the movies just about as long, has appeared in more different titles and is of more or less the same generation, but has never received the recognition he deserves — maybe because he often plays a quiet, self-effacing everyman. In ‘Midnight Run,’ where he is literally handcuffed to De Niro at times, he is every bit the master’s equal, and in the crucial final scene it is Grodin who finds the emotional truth that defines their relationship.”
    Grodin made his Broadway debut in 1962’s “Tchin Tchin”; he was in a supporting role but was singled out for praise. It was followed by another comedy in 1964, “Absence of a Cello.”
    Two years later he co-wrote and directed an Off Broadway musical spoof, “Hooray! It’s a Glorious Day….And All That.” He then directed Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor’s successful “Lovers and Other Strangers.”
    He was hired and fired from Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Steambath,” as were several other actors. For television he directed a special for Simon and Garfunkel in 1969 and “The Paul Simon Special” in 1977; for the latter he won a shared Emmy for writing.
    Grodin made his film debut in the little-seen “Sex and the College Girl” in 1964, after which he turned down the lead role in “The Graduate,” which made Dustin Hoffman a star. His real film debut was a supporting role as a doctor in 1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby.” The next time “Graduate” director Mike Nichols asked him to appear in a movie, Grodin said yes, though the film was the less-than-successful “Catch-22.”

    Grodin began to emphasize writing and directing more than acting but, in 1972, Elaine May convinced him to take the lead in “The Heartbreak Kid,” to which he particularly well suited.
    His 1974 effort “11 Harrowhouse,” a caper-film spoof, was a failure, and Grodin fell back into directing Bologna and Taylor’s Emmy-winning “Acts of Love and Other Comedies,” starring Marlo Thomas, whom he directed the following year in the Broadway comedy “Thieves.” He later starred in the film version along with Thomas.
    In 1975 he starred on Broadway opposite Ellen Burstyn in “Same Time, Next Year,” though he was passed over for the film, which starred Burstyn and Alan Alda. He next produced and directed the Broadway comedy “Unexpected Guests” and appeared to comic effect in the big-budget remake of “King Kong” and in 1978’s “Heaven Can Wait.”
    Over the next decade he starred in a number of successful films, often in support, playing a variation on his comic persona. He toplined in 1979’s “Sunburn” and Albert Brooks’ 1979 mockumentary “Real Life.” He starred in the comedies “It’s My Turn” and “Seems Like Old Times” as well as with Lily Tomlin in “The Incredible Shrinking Woman.” He co-starred in two Steve Martin vehicles, “The Lonely Guy” and “All of Me” (which also starred Tomlin) and in Gene Wilder comedy “The Woman in Red.” He wrote the Hollywood spoof “Movers and Shakers,” in which he co-starred with Walter Matthau in 1985. Later in the decade he appeared in “The Last Resort,” the disastrous “Ishtar” and “The Couch Trip.”
    During this period his biggest hit by far both commercially and critically was “Midnight Run,” in which he starred with Robert De Niro.
    Grodin’s return to the stage in 1990 in “The Price of Fame,” which he penned and starred in Off Broadway, did not succeed, and he went on to pen one-act play “One of the All-Time Greats,” which was produced in 1992.
    He had a memorable supporting role as Kevin Kline’s sidekick in 1993 hit film comedy “Dave.” Other films from the ’90s included “Heart and Souls,” “Taking Care of Business” and the sleeper family comedy “Beethoven” and its first sequel. He also appeared in “The Great Muppet Caper” and “Clifford” opposite Martin Short.
    As an author, Grodin had a number of healthy performers including his 1989 autobiography “It Would Be So Nice If You Weren’t Here,” his 1992 comic observation “How to Get Through Life” and his behind-the-scenes “We’re Ready for You, Mr. Grodin,” published in 1994.
    Because of his numerous talkshow appearances over the years, in which he often launched into mock arguments with his hosts, King World Syndicate offered Grodin his own show, which debuted in 1994. He moved over to CNBC in 1995 and hosted his own primetime show for a few years. Many of the guests were personal friends, and the show received good reviews.
    The actor returned to the bigscreen in 2006 after a 12-year absence for the comedy “Fast Track,” and his play “The Right Kind of People” was staged Off Broadway the same year.
    More recently he appeared on the smallscreen in a 2012 episode of “Law & Order: SVU,” in 2013 in a guest role on “The Michael J. Fox Show” and in a recurring role on FX’s Louis C.K. comedy “Louie” in 2014-15.
    He appeared in director Barry Levinson’s film “The Humbling,” with Buck Henry having co-scripted an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel. It was released in January 2015 and starred Al Pacino as an aging actor named Simon; Variety described Grodin’s performance as “deliciously sardonic,” as he looks “like the cat who ate the canary — along with the entire birdcage — as Simon’s long-suffering agent.”
    Grodin also had a supporting role as a documentary filmmaker in director Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young,” released in 2015.
    He also apppeared in ABC’s 2016 “Madoff” miniseries, playing Carl Shapiro, a Boston philanthropist who was one of Madoff’s earliest investors and eventually had to return $625 million.
    Charles Grodinsky was born in Pittsburgh and was valedictorian of his class at Peabody High School. He decided to pursue a career in the theater, he once told a reporter, after seeing “A Place in the Sun.” He studied acting at the University of Miami for half a year and then received a scholarship to the Pittsburgh Playhouse School of the Theater. By the mid-’50s he was appearing in summer stock in his home state. He tried Hollywood briefly, then moved to New York with the intention of studying at the Actors Studio. He failed his initial audition but went on to study under Uta Hagen for three years, supporting himself with odd jobs. Through a introduction to Lee Strasberg he was admitted to the Actors Studio in 1959.
    He is survived by his wife, author Elissa Durwood Grodin, son Nicholas, daughter-in-law Aubrey and granddaughter Geneva, and daughter by a previous marriage, Marion.
    His family has requested that donations may be made to The Innocence Project in his memory. Grodin received the William Kunstler Racial Justice Award for his advocacy work on behalf of non-violent inmates.
    LOVE him, such a funny, funny guy.

    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

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    Best scene from the 2:57 mark on and again from the 5:20 mark on.
    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

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    Shite, they cut it in the middle of one of the greatest scenes, so it continues at the start of this clip.
    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

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    86????? I had no idea he was that old. RIP!

    By the way, I didn't realize until recently that he was in "Rosemary's Baby" - I think he played Mia Farrow's obstetrician before cabal member Ralph Bellamy takes over.

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    Rip. I can't believe that he was that old either.
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    I think it's also because he wore a toupet for the longest time. His skin was very tight, he just went bald early.
    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

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    Seems Like Old Times is one of my favorite movies. He was fantastic in it.

    Count me in as another one who had no idea how old he was.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisNine View Post
    Seems Like Old Times is one of my favorite movies. He was fantastic in it.

    Count me in as another one who had no idea how old he was.
    Seems like old times is one of my favorites.
    Aurora’s Chicken Pepperoni and her having to get her Feet Scraped were the best.
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    I especially remember him in Midnight Run, with Robert DeNiro. I think Grodin was some kind of white-collar crook who had jumped bail and the mob and the FBI both wanted him. And DeNiro was bringing him in. I think it was a good showcase for Grodin's subtle humor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SHELLEE View Post
    Seems like old times is one of my favorites.
    Aurora’s Chicken Pepperoni and her having to get her Feet Scraped were the best.
    The best!! Remember, it's escraped !





    https://wildflourskitchen.com/2016/0...vie-character/
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    He was seriously talented. RIP.
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    Aww, that's sad to hear. I really liked him.
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    Loved his dry sense of humor. I think my favorite role was Midnight Run, but he was good in everything he did. I also said 86, really? RIP.
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    I loved him!

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