R.I.P. Charles Grodin, beloved comedy star of TV and film

He was a master of droll, deadpan humor.

The Everett Collection

Charles Grodin made the unlikable not only likeable but extremely entertaining. He perfected a droll comedic perspective that he used in films, on stage, as a talk show guest and even in books like It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1935, Grodin graduated from Peabody High School as valedictorian. He studied acting in New York City with legendary teachers Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg.

Starting in the early 1960s, Grodin won smalls roles on TV shows like My Mother the Car and The Defenders while also appearing on Broadway. In a 1967 episode of The Big Valley, Grodin stole the show as one of the nefarious Dunnigan brothers alongside Russell Johnson — fresh off his role as the Professor on Gilligan's Island.

Grodin played Dr. Hill in Rosemary's Baby but began his career trajectory as an ace in big-screen comedies after playing Aarfy Aardvark in Catch-22 and then breaking out as newlywed Lenny Cantrow in Elaine May's The Heartbreak Kid. From there he starred in Thieves opposite Marlo Thomas, the Albert Brooks mockumentary Real Life, Seems Like Old Times with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Lonely Guy with Steve Martin, among many others.

In 1985, Grodin wrote and acted in Movers & Shakers before reuniting with Elaine May for Ishtar and taking on perhaps his best-known role –—accountant Jonathan Mardukas in Midnight Run. The action-comedy has become a classic favorite in large part because of how well Grodin and Robert DeNiro play off of each other.

In the 1990s, Grodin starred in the family comedies Beethoven and Beethoven's 2nd, not to mention the presidential rom-com Dave and Heart and Souls with Robert Downey Jr.

Grodin kept audiences laughing on the small screen as well. He starred in multiple projects with his real-life friend, Carol Burnett, like the TV movie The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and the soap opera parody mini-series Fresno.

In one memorable appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1991, Grodin pretended to take issue with how he was treated on the show. He complained that the previous weeks guests, including Carol Burnett, had badmouthed him and played a tape to prove it. He even brought his "lawyer" (comedian Joey Faye) to sit in on the interview.

Charles Grodin will forever be remembered for the sardonic but endearing and always entertaining personality he brought to his work. He passed away this week at the age of 86.

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Runeshaper 31 months ago
R.I.P. Charles Grodin. Loved him!
37 months ago
I loved his version of The Heartbreak Kid. They always show inferior remakes of classic movies, rather than the superior originals.
RobertGHarding 38 months ago
A Movie that wasn't mentioned in the Article was the remake of King Kong (1976). He played the role of Fred Wilson, an Oil Executive who thought there was a large Oil Deposit on the Island where King Kong Lived.
Deleted 38 months ago
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38 months ago
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UTZAAKE 38 months ago
"In a 1967 episode of The Big Valley, Grodin stole the show as one of the nefarious Dunnigan brothers alongside Russell Johnson..." The only Big Valley episode I remember. Russell Johnson actually played the dominant one who bragged that no one messes with the Dunnigans, a concept I currently use to describe the Seattle Sounders' Roldan brothers.

Charles Grodin generally played clumsy characters, especially when he hosted Saturday Night Live in October 1977. Unfortunately Roger Ailes made him a CNBC talk show host who was as obnoxious as the other cable news gabfest hosts.
vinman63 38 months ago
My Mother the Car on your resume, that’s impressive.
15inchBlackandWhite 38 months ago
Peabody High School in Pittsburgh was also the alma-mater for Frank Gorshin (The Riddler) and Gene Kelly (Singin' in the Rain).
15inchBlackandWhite 38 months ago
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Rik 38 months ago
he was also the dad in the rarely seen sequel to "A Christmas Story"!
MikeInFla 38 months ago
RIP Mr. Grodin. I also enjoyed him in the almost unknown sequel to "A Christmas Story" titled "My Summer Story" where he plays "old man Parker" and does a good job picking up where Darren McGavin left off.
Michael 38 months ago
IMDB says his first role was in Disney 's "20,000 Leagues under the Sea".

I first noticed him in *Seems Like Old Times" in 1980, playing Goldie Hawn's husband. Chevy Chase played her ex-husband.

And then you notice him retroactively in earlier roles.
PortelaJ 38 months ago
Seems like old times. Thanks for the memories. RIP
Peter_Falk_Fan 38 months ago
I was sad to see this on the news tonight. Very good actor and writer. RIP
JeffPaul76 38 months ago
Hello. I really liked Charles Grodin in The Beethoven Movies, and as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
kimmer 38 months ago
So many souls are leaving us beautiful memories....Rest Well!
TheDavBow3 38 months ago
I really enjoyed him. I liked him in The Lonely Guy with Steve Martin, Taking Care of Business with James Belushi and Dave with Kevin Kline. Super funny, yet different. R.I.P.
MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
He was funny in Heaven Can Wait.
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gmerchant11 38 months ago
Lost another great one. And who can forget his portraying the frustrated uncle in the movie "Clifford" along side Martin Short?
Sway 38 months ago
RIP Charles Grodin. Always entertaining.
Jeremy 38 months ago
I found out about this from Wikipedia. I couldn't believe it. He was one of my favorite actors.
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