Report: Jewish actor Charles Grodin passes away at 86


Photo from WikiCommons


Charles Grodin, best known for his neurotic comic 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.  Grodin, who was raised in an Orthodox home, considered himself thoroughly Jewish, and “someone who lives by Jewish principles,” according to an interview he did with the Jewish News in Northern California in 2004.

According to the Times, Groden got his start in television, before taking on leading and character roles in motion pictures, usually portraying the exasperated urban neurotic. His dry, understated sense of humor also made him a perfect talk show guest, and later, host of his own cable show. Grodin also wrote plays and books.

The 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.

Early Life

Born in Pittsburgh, Grodin grew up steeped in an Orthodox religious education, but not much of it stuck.

“In Hebrew school,” he told the Jewish News, “we’d recite the Hebrew written on a blackboard. I annoyed the rabbi so much he threw me out of class. I was thrown out of class in high school as well, not for being rude, but for being persistent with my questions. That makes for a good talk show host. Persistence annoys the heck out of people.”

According to his bio, Grodin dropped out of the University of Miami to pursue acting, had managed to land a smattering of stage and television roles when, in 1962, he received his first big break, landing a part in a Broadway comedy called “Tchin-Tchin” that starred Anthony Quinn and Margaret Leighton.

In 1978 he had a supporting role in the Warren Beatty vehicle “Heaven Can Wait.” Another signature role was in “Midnight Run” in 1988, in which Mr. Grodin played an accountant who has embezzled a fortune from the mob and is being pursued by a bounty hunter, played by Robert De Niro.