Charles Grodin, ‘Midnight Run,’ ‘Heartbreak Child,’ star, dies

Charles Grodin, the droll, offbeat actor and author who scored as a caddish newlywed in “The Heartbreak Child” and later had roles starting from Robert De Niro’s counterpart within the comedian thriller “Midnight Run” to the bedeviled father within the “Beethoven” comedies, has died. He was 86.

Grodin died Tuesday in Wilton, Connecticut, from bone marrow most cancers, his son, Nicholas Grodin, stated. 

Identified for his dead-pan model and on a regular basis seems, Grodin additionally appeared in “Dave,” “The Girl in Pink,” “Rosemary’s Child” and “Heaven Can Wait.” On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn within the long-running Seventies comedy “Similar Time, Subsequent 12 months,” and he discovered many different shops for his skills.

With bone-dry understatement, Grodin might steal total scenes with only a look. His dedication, whether or not performing throughout De Niro or Miss Piggy, was unsurpassed. In his many late-night appearances, he as soon as introduced a lawyer with him to threaten David Letterman for defamation. (The lawyer as an alternative took a shine to Letterman.) Internet hosting “Saturday Evening Stay,” he pretended to not perceive dwell tv, ruining all of the sketches. Steve Martin, who co-starred with Grodin in 1984’s “The Lonely Man,” remembered him as “one of many funniest individuals I ever met.” 

Within the Nineteen Nineties, Grodin made his mark as a liberal commentator on radio and TV. He additionally wrote performs and tv scripts, successful an Emmy for his work on a 1997 Paul Simon particular, and wrote a number of books humorously ruminating on his ups and downs in present enterprise.

Actors, he wrote, ought to “assume not a lot about getting forward as changing into nearly as good as you could be, so that you’re prepared whenever you do get a chance. I did that, so I didn’t undergo from the frustration of all of the rejections. They only gave me extra time.” He spelled out that recommendation in his first e book, “It Would Be So Good If You Weren’t Right here,” printed in 1989.

Grodin turned a star within the Seventies, however might need damaged by years earlier: He auditioned for the title function in Mike Nichols’ 1967 basic “The Graduate,” however the half went as an alternative to Dustin Hoffman. 

Grodin did have a small function in “Rosemary’s Child” and was a part of the big forged of Nichols’ adaptation of “Catch-22″ earlier than he gained large discover within the 1972 Elaine Might comedy “The Heartbreak Child.”

He starred as a Jewish newlywed who abandons his comically neurotic bride to pursue a good looking, rich blonde performed by Cybill Shepherd. The film was successful and Grodin acquired excessive reward. He commented: “After seeing the film, lots of people would strategy me with the concept of punching me within the nostril.”

“I assumed the character in ‘The Heartbreak Child’ was a despicable man, however I play it with full sincerity,” Grodin informed the A.V. Membership in 2009. “My job isn’t to guage it. If it wasn’t for Elaine Might, I most likely would by no means have had that film profession.”

Within the subsequent few years, Grodin performed in a lavish 1976 movie remake of “King Kong” because the grasping showman who brings the large ape to New York. He was Warren Beatty’s devious lawyer in “Heaven Can Wait,” and Gene Wilder’s pal in “The Girl in Pink” (Much less efficiently, he appeared in Might’s 1987 journey comedy “Ishtar,” a infamous flop). His flip in 1981’s “The Nice Muppet Caper” was usually devoted as a thief wooing Miss Piggy.

In 1988′s “Midnight Run,” Grodin was a bail-jumping accountant who took thousands and thousands from a mobster and De Niro was the bounty hunter attempting to deliver him cross-country to Los Angeles. They’re being chased by police, one other bounty hunter and the Mob, and since Grodin is afraid of flying, they’re compelled to go by automobile, bus, even boxcar.

Grodin and De Niro improvised in lots of scenes within the movie, revered as among the many best buddy comedies. Typically Grodin was genuinely attempting to amuse his extra intimidating co-star. One line he threw at De Niro: “You ever had intercourse with an animal, Jack?”

“I moved a bit of extra towards drama and he moved a bit of towards comedy,” Grodin stated on the time. “And we met on an excellent floor.”

“Beethoven” introduced him success within the family-animal comedy style in 1992. Requested why he took up such a task, he informed The Related Press he was pleased to get the work.

“I’m not that a lot in demand,” Grodin replied. “It’s not like I’ve this stack of great provides. I’m simply delighted they needed me.”

Amid his movie gigs, Grodin turned a well-recognized face on late-night TV, perfecting a personality who would confront Johnny Carson or others with a faux aggressiveness that made audiences cringe and chortle on the similar time.

“It’s all a joke,” he informed The Los Angeles Occasions in 1995. “It’s only a factor. It was a alternative to do this.”

His greatest stage success, by far, was “Similar Time, Subsequent 12 months,” which opened on Broadway in 1975 and ran practically 3½ years. He and Burstyn have been two individuals who — although every fortunately married — meet in the identical lodge annually for an extramarital fling. Past the humor, the play gained reward for deftly tracing the modifications of their lives, and in society, from the Nineteen Fifties to the ’70s. Critic Clive Barnes known as Grodin’s character “a monument to male insecurity, gorgeously inept.”

After 1994′s “My Summer time Story,” Grodin largely deserted performing. From 1995 to 1998, he hosted a chat present on CNBC cable community. He moved to MSNBC after which to CBS’ “60 Minutes II.”

In his 2002 e book, “I Like It Higher When You’re Humorous,” he stated too many TV programmers’ imagine that viewers are greatest served “if we hear solely from lifelong journalists.” He argued that “individuals outdoors of Washington and in professions apart from journalism” additionally deserved a soapbox.

He returned to the large display screen in 2006 as Zach Braff’s know-it-all father-in-law in “The Ex.” Newer credit embrace the movies “An Imperfect Homicide” and “The Comic” and the TV sequence “Louie.”

Grodin was born Charles Grodinsky in Pittsburgh in 1935, son of a wholesale dry items vendor who died when Charles was 18. He performed basketball and later described himself as “a tough child, all the time getting kicked out of sophistication.”

He studied on the College of Miami and the Pittsburgh Playhouse, labored in summer season theater after which struggled in New York, working nights as a cab driver, postal clerk and watchman whereas learning performing in the course of the day.

In 1962 Grodin made his Broadway debut and acquired good notices in “Tchin Tchin,” a three-character play starring Anthony Quinn. He adopted with “Absence of a Cello” in 1964.

He co-wrote and directed a short-lived 1966 off-Broadway present known as “Hooray! It’s a Wonderful Day … and all that.” That very same yr, he made his film debut in a low-budget flop known as “Intercourse and the Faculty Lady.”

In 1969, Grodin demonstrated his early curiosity in politics by serving to write and direct “Songs of America,” a TV particular starring Simon and Garfunkel that included civil rights and antiwar messages. However the authentic sponsor pulled out and Simon later known as the little-noticed effort “a tragedy.”

Simon returned with a particular in 1977 that spoofed present enterprise and featured Grodin because the present’s bumbling producer. Grodin and his co-writers gained Emmys.

Grodin and his first spouse, Julia Ferguson, had a daughter, comic Marion Grodin. The wedding led to divorce. He and his second spouse, Elissa Durwood, had a son, Nicholas.


Nationwide Author Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

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