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.