Charles Grodin, actor, comedian, and the author of eight books, has died at the age of 86, succumbing to bone marrow cancer.
Charles Grodin was born Charles Grodinsky April 21, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He died May 18, 2021 in Wilton, Connecticut. His first movie role was in Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, based on the Jules Verne book of the same name.
Grodin in SF and Fantasy
From 1954 to 2017, Grodin appeared in 70 movies and TV shows, some of which were definitely on the odd side. from My Mother the Car to King Kong. He acted with the Muppets twice, as Nicky Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper, and as Quentin Fitzwaller in “The Muppets at Walt Disney World” in The Magical World of Disney, and even appeared on an episode of the quirky superhero comedy Captain Nice.
Grodin also played more serious roles. He played Dr. Hill in Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Fred Wilson in the King Kong remake (1974), and Vance Kramer in The Incredible Shrinking Woman. The role of Tony Abbott in the 1978 remake of Heaven Can Wait was also his, and he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor as Harrison Winslow in Hearts and Souls (1993).
Grodin in Other Roles and Awards
Charles Grodin appeared in Ishtar (1987) as Jim Harrison (some critics consider Ishtar the worst movie ever made, worse than even Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)). Grodin also earned a nomination for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor as DA Ira Parks in Seems Like Old Times (1980). He was more respected in other roles, winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor as Lenny Cantrow in The Heartbreak Kid (1972). He won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor as Murray Blum in the presidential comedy Dave (1993). The Valladolid Film Festival named him Best Actor for Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas in Midnight Run (1988).
He appeared in several westerns: The Guns of Will Sonnett, The Big Valley, The Virginian, and Have Gun – Will Travel, and several police shows: Felony Squad, Law & Order: SVU, For movie roles, he played George Newton in Beethoven and Beethoven’s Second. His final film role was Arthur in An Imperfect Murder, which filmed in 1977 but did not release until 2020.
Grodin was no stranger to legitimate theater. Making his Broadway debut in 1962, he played Robert Prickett in Tchin-Tchin, then played Perry Littlewood in Absence of a Cello, and George in Same Time Next Year. He moved to directing on Lovers and Other Strangers, and went on to direct Thieves and Unexpected Guests, adding “producer” to his theatrical credits on Thieves.
Grodin won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special in 1978 for the Paul Simon Special. He studied at the University of Miami, but dropped out to pursue an acting career. He wrote three plays and eight books. Grodin was married twice, first to Julia Ferguson, the mother of his daughter Marion, until 1983, and to author Elissa Durwood from 1983 to 2021. They had one son, Nicholas. Our condolences to his family and friends.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.