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I am – Hercules.

Steve Landesberg, the deadpan stand-up comic and avuncular actor who made me a lifelong fan of ABC’s “Barney Miller,” passed away Friday in New York.

He was only 65.

He first appeared in the sitcom as a priest, then was brought on as intellectual detective Arthur Dietrich to replace Abe Vigoda when the “Godfather” veteran went on to star in the spinoff “Fish.”  (Vigoda, for the record, is still kicking at age 89.) 

Younger fans may know Landesberg for straying into the Judd Apatow camp as Jason Segal’s doctor in 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” or as psychoanalyst Myron Finkelstein on the Starz sitcom “Head Case.”

During his “Barney Miller” run, he guest-starred (alongside “The Bob Newhart Show’s” Eliot Carlin, Jack Riley) as lethargic con man Kenny Hollywood in the Angel Martin-centric Stephen Cannell-scripted “There’s One In Every Port.” It remains one of the funniest “Rockford Files” episodes ever shot.

He did a mean Gregory Peck.

For years, he and I shopped at the same Ralphs grocery store near Universal City. I even got to ride in the same elevator with him once. That was kinda cool.

I love Steve Landesberg. I’m sorry to hear he’s gone.

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 21, 2010, 1 a.m. CST

    Abe Vigoda laughs at us all!

    by Ye Not Guilty

    R.I.P., Steve.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Funny SOB

    by BurnHollywood

    'Twill be missed.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 1:41 a.m. CST

    God bless your soul

    by Meadowe

    Didn't know you, but one of my family members is a big Rockford Files fan so I'll tell her in the morning.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 2:14 a.m. CST

    Seriosly a bummer

    by snomusic

    I loved his standup and he was the main draw for me on Barney Miller.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 2:17 a.m. CST

    2010: Unfunniest year ever

    by CuervoJones

    Landesberg, Nielsen, Edwards, Monicelli...

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 2:24 a.m. CST

    RIP Sgt. Dietrich, one of the few intellectual sitcom characters.

    by Doctor_Strangepork

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 3:42 a.m. CST

    RIP, Mr. Landesberg

    by Fremen

    His interactions with Abe Vigoda's character, Fish, were almost as funny as Detective Yamana's reaction to the guy who thought he was a werewolf. --- Good night, funny man.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 3:49 a.m. CST

    Vigoda the Immortal

    by Inexplicable_Nuclear_Balls

    <spoken in the voice of Janosz> He was the Alpha, and he shall be the Omega. No man may outlast Vigoda... VIGODA THE IMMORTAL!

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 3:53 a.m. CST

    Read my last post with the voice of Janosz saying it

    by Inexplicable_Nuclear_Balls

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 4:02 a.m. CST

    My Favorite Dietrich Moment was beating the lie detector...

    by SickPuppy

    He said "I come from a galaxy far, far away." And the lie detector said he was telling the truth. The squad room eyed him suspiciously. He then says, "No, I'm not"... pauses a beat... "I thought it needed to be said."

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 4:37 a.m. CST

    Janosz Poha? Random GB2 reference there pal

    by ndally

    But nicely done

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 5 a.m. CST

    Only 65?? That's a good long life

    by John Finnan

    considering most talkbackers here will be dead of diabetes or heart disease before reaching 50. Sorry guys, that's just the statistics of it.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 5:34 a.m. CST

    Ironic, Abe Vigoda left Barney Miller for Fish,

    by theycallmemrtibbs

    Yet one of the veterans most famous lines had Luca sleeping with them.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 7:30 a.m. CST

    Loved Him on Head Case.

    by The_Credible_Hulk

    Very funny show, very funny actor.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 7:39 a.m. CST

    Damn. That's a shame.

    by The McPoyle Clan

    Barney Miller is an under-appreciated show.<br><br>For all you youngins, it's where Book from Firefly, Ron Glass, had has most prominent role early in his career.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Abe Vigoda does not laugh at you all

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    Not today. Ironically Landesberg had a guest appearance on Barney Miller playing a con man. Much like Harry Morgan who had a guest role on M*A*S*H both went on to perhaps the biggest roles of their careers. I'm surprised there was no mention in the obit that he was for all intents and purposes Pauly Shore's stepfather.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 8:27 a.m. CST

    Gone to the big Goethe festival in the sky

    by Bash_Branigan

    My favorite Landesberg Barney Miller scenes were the one where he's on his way to the Goethe festival, and the episode with the Time Traveler (who seems to foreshadow that Deitrich will be revered in the future).

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Real funny guy

    by BizarroJerry

    Too bad, and so young, too. That guy's acting was the definition of deadpan delivery comedy. One of the most extreme cases ever.<p>All of Barney Miller is that style comedy. It was my Dad's favorite show from back then. But I think you really have to be an adult to enjoy it.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 9:45 a.m. CST

    As dry as the Sahara. Loved his delivery.

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    One of those old school comics, like the never aging David Brenner, that I fondly remember growing up.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 9:47 a.m. CST

    RIP Steve Landesburg

    by deelzbub

    after Barney Miller, one of the networks let him do a prime time special. The Steve Landesburg Show. He did a great Abe Lincoln. Funny man!

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 9:53 a.m. CST

    Okay 2010, I know you've got a week and a half left,

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    but enough deaths for a while, okay?

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 10:27 a.m. CST

    Sick puppy...

    by diverdan

    That's the scene I was thinking of. Q:Where were you born? A:A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Loved him in Barney Miller!

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Abe Vigoda says, "there can be only one".

    by parissun

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 2 p.m. CST

    Save Money - Why Not?

    by monorail77

    Steve did some low-rent Canadian commercials for United Furniture Warehouse several years ago and they were as dry and as funny as he was. Loved seeing him slum it and take the piss out of the store he was shilling for at the same time. "Save money, why not" was the tag line for the commercials and my friends and I still use this today in many situations while trying (badly) to imitate Steve's voice and delivery. Its not all I'll remember him for; he was damn funny and smart too. But I loved those commercials and, since they're probably not widely known, I thought I'd share the reference with y'all in our mourning of this great. Maybe the ads are on Youtube or something?

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 2:20 p.m. CST

    The man had an awesome delivery...

    by impossibledreamers

    and great timing. Funny, funny guy.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 2:43 p.m. CST

    Tonight Show

    by Tar Heel

    I remember his appearances on Johnny Carson doing standup or marking Johnny laugh during their chats. I still remember his tip for getting out of jury duty: during jury selection, stand up and yell in a Southern accent, "Hang him!" Rest in Peace.

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 4:19 p.m. CST

    Sorry to read this

    by JimmyPasta

    Steve was one of my favorite comedians growing up. (yes,I'm old!) I didn't see him for years until he popped up on a Jud Apatow movie. Thanks for all the laughs,Steve!!

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Herc, your Ralph's has an elevator?

    by CountryBoy

    RIP Steve

  • Dec. 21, 2010, 9:03 p.m. CST

    He was 74 not 65

    by torontoxic

    He lied about his birth date early on to seem younger.