Saturday, May 25, 2024

RIP Beloved Actor Alan Arkin Dead at Age 89, Won the Oscar for “Little Miss Sunshine,” Starred in Dozens of Classics


The sublimely great actor, Alan Arkin, has died at age 89. His sons said in a joint message, “Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed.”

Arkin won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2007 for his beguiling performance in “Little Miss Sunshine.” He had three other nominations, the most recent in 2013, for “Argo.” He won a Tony Award for acting in 1963’s “Enter Laughing,” and was nominated a decade later for directing the original production of “The Sunshine Boys.” From 1964-64, he starred on Broadway in Murray Schisgal’s play, :Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols.

More recently, Arkin starred with Michael Douglas in “The Kominsky Method.” He had six Emmy nominations that stretched from 1967 to 2020. Talk about longevity!

Arkin was the real deal. He was typically self-effacing and cared little about the trappings of stardom. I will tell you a story: I ran into him and his lovely wife at the 2007 Oscars Governors Ball, after the show. He’d just won Best Supporting Actor for playing the grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine.” That year, the Governors Awards dinner was a buffet. There were stations where you got food and then sat on ottomans. It was there among these little square seating arrangements that I found the Arkins, plates balanced on their knees. (I had once seen Tony Bennett do something similar at an Emmy Awards party.) I asked them if they needed help, and Alan offered to get me something. How could you not love him?

He only worked with the best people. In 2001, he starred in Sidney Lumet’s landmark TV series, “100 Centre Street.” In 1992, there was David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” directed by James Foley. In 1966, he took off in “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” and never looked back. He had a string of hits through the 70s including “Catch 22,” “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” and, of course, Elaine May’s “The In Laws,” his classic with Peter Falk. When he turned up for a short arc on “St. Elsewhere” in the mid 80s, viewers went crazy. His dry wit and sly delivery made him a cult star in many ways.

Condolences to his family and friends and legions of fans.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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