Charles Grodin movies: actor’s most memorable film roles, from Beethoven to Midnight Run and Heartbreak Kid

The American actor and writer has passed away at age 86 in his home in Connecticut

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 1:36 pm

American actor Charles Grodin has passed away at age 86. His son, Nicholas, told the New York Times that the cause of death was bone marrow cancer.

Grodin, who was known for his roles across TV, film and theatre, died in his home in Wilton, Connecticut.

What was his life like?

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The actor passed away in his home in Connecticut at age 86 (Photo: IMDb/Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Grodin was born on 21 April 1935, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Grodin had initially attended the University of Miami, but dropped out without graduating in order to pursue a career in acting. He went on to study acting at HB Studio in New York City.

He had his first film debut with an uncredited part in Disney’s 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Grodin also made his Broadway debut in a production of Tchin-Tchin.

Grodin would go on to become a familiar face in Hollywood, especially as a supporting actor in many comedies.

Alongside acting, Grodin also enjoyed a career as a writer, publishing a number of books throughout his life, including Just When I Thought I’d Heard Everything: Humorous Observations on Life in America, How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am and If Only I Knew Then… Learning From Our Mistakes.

Grodin is survived by two children, a daughter Marion from his first marriage to Julie Ferguson, and a son, Nicholas, from his second marriage to Elissa Durwood. Durwood and Grodin married in 1983.

Grodin stepped away from appearing in films for a period of time in the 2000s to raise his children alongside his wife.

Speaking to The AV Club in 2009, Grodin said: “When my son entered first grade, I didn’t want to travel anymore, so I started my cable show in New York.”

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What roles was he best known for?

In 1968, Grodin played a small but important role in the psychological horror film Rosemary’s Baby as the obstetrician Dr Hill.

The 1970s was when Grodin really hit his stride, appearing as Aarfy Aardvark in Catch-22, Lenny Cantrow in The Heartbreak Kid, Fred Wilson in King Kong, Tony Abbott in Heaven Can Wait and Warren Yeager in Real Life. In 1977, he hosted an episode of the sketch show Saturday Night Live.

In 1981, Grodin starred as Nicky Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper, a jewel thief who falls in love with Miss Piggy. Also in 1981, he appeared opposite Lily Tomlin in The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

In 1986, he appeared in the TV mini-series Fresno as Cane Kensington, the evil son of Charlotte Kensington, played by Carol Burnett.

One of the roles he is best known for is appearing in the 1988 comedy Midnight Run alongside Robert De Niro.

In 1992, Grodin appeared in the family friendly box office hit Beethoven as George Newton. Grodin reprised the role in the 1993 sequel Beethoven’s 2nd.

The last project that Grodin appeared in was the 2017 film An Imperfect Murder, which also starred Sienna Miller and Alex Baldwin.

Which celebrities have paid tribute to him?

As news of Grodin’s death has circulated online, many big names from the entertainment industry have expressed their condolences.

Steve Martin, who worked with Grodin on The Lonely Guy, Tweeted: “So sad to hear. One of the funniest people I ever met.”

The official Miss Piggy Twitter account also wrote: “My beloved Charles Grodin was a fabulous friend to moi onscreen and off. Debonair, handsome, talented, charming - and great taste! I’ll miss him dearly.”

In a statement, Robert De Niro said: “Chuck was as good a person as he was an actor. Midnight Run was a great project to work on, and Chuck made it an even better one.

“He will be missed. I am very, very sad to hear of his passing.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin Tweeted: “I loved Charles Grodin so much. He would bust my balls and give me so much s**t in a way that left me no choice but to giggle with glee. Never mean spirited, just quick and brilliant.”

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt also wrote: “RIP Charles Grodin. Ordering a plate of chorizo and eggs in his beloved memory.”

Ben Stiller Tweeted: “Charles Grodin in Heartbreak Kid, Real Life, Heaven Can Wait, Alone. So incredibly funny. He knew how to do so little so brilliantly. #RIPCharlesGrodin.”