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Actor in Barton Fink, Harlem Nights, Eight Males Out

Actor in Barton Fink, Harlem Nights, Eight Males Out. Michael Lerner, the busy Oscar-nominated character actor who had memorable turns as bombastic varieties in Barton Fink, Harlem Nights, Eight Males Out and a lot extra, has died. He was 81.

Lerner died Saturday night time, in line with an Instagram submit from his nephew, Sam Lerner, who can be an actor (ABC’s The Goldbergs). The reason for demise was not instantly identified.

“It’s laborious to place into phrases how good my uncle Michael was, and the way influential he was to me,” Sam wrote. “His tales all the time impressed me and made me fall in love with appearing. He was the best, most assured, gifted man, and the truth that he was my blood will all the time make me really feel particular. Everybody that is aware of him is aware of how insane he was — in the easiest way.”

Raised in a Brooklyn housing venture as a son of a junk supplier, Lerner specialised in enjoying authority figures like cops, crooks, politicians and Hollywood tycoons. “His characters have a layer of appeal, a skinny pores and skin of bonhomie over the blubber of the pure bully,” is how The Guardian as soon as described them.

Earlier than he acquired to Hollywood, Lerner appeared in an experimental movie directed by onetime London housemate Yoko Ono, then performed the speechwriter for Robert Redford’s character in Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate (1972).

He made heads flip with a stint as White Home press secretary Pierre Salinger on the 1974 ABC telefilm The Missiles of October and because the killer Jack Ruby on the 1978 CBS docudrama Ruby and Oswald.

In Bob Rafelson’s redo of The Postman At all times Rings Twice (1981), Lerner was the lawyer for Jessica Lange’s character (Hume Cronyn portrayed the legal professional within the 1946 unique). And Lerner additionally stood out reverse Anthony Hopkins and John Cusack in Alan Parker‘s The Street to Wellville (1994) and with Allison Janney in Todd Solondz’s Life Throughout Wartime (2009).

The actor additionally performed the callous guide writer Fulton Greenway in Elf (2003), the mayor of New York Metropolis named for Roger Ebert in Roland Emmerich’s remake of Godzilla (1998) and U.S. senators in Poster Boy (2004) and X-Males: Days of Future Previous (2014).

Lerner auditioned for the a part of Det. Dave Starsky on ABC’s Starsky and Hutch (Paul Michael Glaser acquired the job, in fact) and wound up sticking round because the lowlife legal Fats Rolly on the primary two episodes.

He later portrayed a rabbi on NBC’s Hill Avenue Blues; Mel Horowitz, the Beverly Hills lawyer and father of Cher (Rachel Blanchard), on the primary season of the ABC adaptation of Clueless; and Sidney Greene, a Broadway producer who’s mounting a revival of Humorous Lady, on Fox’s Glee.

Michael Lerner in Barton Fink

Michael Lerner as film mogul Jack Lipnick in 1991’s Barton FinkEverett

Lerner acquired his Oscar nomination for his efficiency because the brash Nineteen Thirties studio mogul Jack Lipnick in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Barton Fink (1991). He had auditioned for the brothers earlier than — he didn’t get employed for Miller’s Crossing — however arrived this time with a goal.

“They mentioned the character was a Michael Lerner kind, however they didn’t have me are available in till the final minute,” he instructed Cigar Aficionado journal in a 1999 interview. “I got here in and fucking blew them away.

I auditioned in character, speaking a mile a minute. Joel and Ethan Coen have been on the bottom, laughing and crying in hysterics, and I simply walked out of there. I got here in, I did the primary large speech and walked out.”

He based mostly Lipnick on legendary MGM producer Louis B. Mayer. “I checked out a number of documentary footage, I chosen a pair of eyeglasses that have been precisely the sort he wore, and I picked up on some mannerisms he had,” he mentioned. “It’s enjoyable for an actor to try this.”

A bit earlier, Lerner made his mark as racketeer Arnold Rothstein, the architect of baseball’s 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, in John Sayles’ Eight Males Out (1988), then performed the cold-blooded gangster Bugsy Calhoune for Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights (1989).

In a 1992 interview for NPR’s Recent Air, he instructed Terry Gross that among the finest movies he ever did was the Spain-produced horror film Anguish (1987), through which he portrayed an ophthalmologist assistant who’s hypnotized by his mom (Zelda Rubinstein) to go on a killing spree so he can save his flailing eyesight.

“I had been suggested by my managers on the time not to try this half as a result of it was so unflattering,” he mentioned. “I performed a personality that’s fairly repulsive, nevertheless it was an important [role].”

Born on June 22, 1941, Lerner was raised in a housing venture within the Brooklyn neighborhood of Purple Hook. His father, George, “preferred to suppose he was an antiques supplier, however in all actuality he was a junk supplier,” he mentioned.

A sports activities nut, Lerner appeared as a “quiz child” at age 13 on a neighborhood TV program hosted by sportscaster Bert Lee Jr., then was sports activities editor of the college newspaper at Lafayette Excessive Faculty. To assist out his household, he labored on the Zei-Mar delicatessen owned by his older brother in Brighton Seaside.

Lerner attended Brooklyn Faculty (future director Joel Zwick was a classmate) and performed Willy Loman in a manufacturing of Dying of a Salesman, then acquired his grasp’s from UC Berkeley. He meant to turn into an English professor however accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to check theater for 2 years on the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Artwork.

In London, he shared a home with Ono. “She made a film comprised of naked asses strolling on a treadmill,” he mentioned. “I’m in it and so is Paul McCartney. Plus I’m doing narration about censorship and all that crap.”

He joined the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 1968, then moved to Los Angeles a yr later to look in a manufacturing of Jules Feiffer’s off-Broadway hit Little Murders. Brooklyn-born filmmaker Paul Mazursky preferred him in that and solid him in Alex In Wonderland (1970), starring Donald Sutherland and Ellen Burstyn.

In the meantime, Lerner was exhibiting up on such TV exhibits within the ’70s as The Brady Bunch (enjoying a form bicycle salesman), That Lady, The Odd Couple, Ironside, The Bob Newhart Present, M*A*S*H, The Rockford Recordsdata and Kojak.

After his flip because the colourful Salinger, John F. Kennedy’s press secretary in the course of the Cuban Missile Disaster, he acquired a pleasant praise from former first woman Jackie Kennedy. “I met [her] at a jazz live performance at Carnegie Corridor and he or she mentioned, ‘Mr. Lerner, you’ve out Pierre’d Pierre,’ which I believed was very humorous,” he recalled in a 2016 A.V. Membership interview.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, Michael Lerner, Jessica Lange, 1981.

Michael Lerner (left) with Jessica Lange in 1981’s The Postman At all times Rings TwiceParamount/Courtesy Everett Assortment

For Harlem Knights, Lerner remarked that “Murphy courted me like loopy. [Producers] needed Robert Duvall to play the half. I auditioned for Eddie twice and he mentioned, no, he desires me. He had a number of energy, so I acquired the position.”

On Eighties’ telefilms, Lerner had portrayed Golden Age studio kingpins Jack Warner in This 12 months’s Blonde and Harry Cohn in Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess earlier than touchdown on Barton Fink. Though he misplaced on Oscar night time to Jack Palance of Metropolis Slickers, he couldn’t complain.

“I’d been a working character actor for about 20 years, after which abruptly I acquired nominated and my cash went up!” he mentioned. He appeared for the Coens once more in A Critical Man (2009).

Lerner’s big-screen résumé additionally included Busting (1974), St. Ives (1976), Unusual Invaders (1983), Maniac Cop 2 (1990), Newsies (1992), Amos & Andrew (1993), No Escape (1994), Radioland Murders (1994), For Richer or Poorer (1997), Secure Males (1998), Woody Allen’s Movie star (1998), Story of the Mummy (1998), The Mod Squad (1999), My Favourite Martian (1999), Mirror Mirror (2012) and Sidney J. Furie’s Drive Me to Vegas and Mars (2018).

And in 2002, he performed an artwork collector in a West Finish manufacturing of Up for Grabs, starring Madonna.

When he wasn’t working, Lerner collected uncommon books — in 2012, he put up for public sale two 1665 editions of Aesop’s Fables amid different invaluable works — and loved Cuban cigars.

“There’s a robust argument to be made in regards to the physiological and psychological peace” that comes with an excellent stogie, he mentioned. “No one involves my home between 5 and 6 o’clock. That’s after I swim bare, learn the trades and smoke cigars.”

He additionally was a part of a daily poker sport with the likes of Charles Bronson, Richard Dreyfuss, Jason Alexander, Ed Asner, Milton Berle, Richard Lewis and agent Norby Walters.

Along with his nephew, survivors embody his youthful brother, Ken Lerner — additionally on The Goldbergs — and niece and actress Jenny Lerner.

In his A.V. Membership interview, Lerner mentioned he preferred a director who appreciated what he dropped at the desk.

“If a director comes over to me and says, ‘That’s too large, that’s too small,’ these are good instructions,” he mentioned. “However my interpretation of a personality is intuition. If a director doesn’t like my interpretation, then I’ve an issue.”



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