Charles Grodin, the actor who lent his droll wit and deadpan delivery to films such as "The Heartbreak Kid," "Heaven Can Wait," "Midnight Run" and "Beethoven," died Tuesday. He was 86. Read more below.
Grodin was born in Pittsburgh in 1935 and studied acting at HB Studio in New York City under the famed actress and instructor Uta Hagen.
He made his Hollywood debut with an uncredited bit part as a drummer boy in Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954). He was active in theater in the 1960s, appearing in "Absence of a Cello" (1964) and directing "Lovers and Strangers" (1968).
Grodin earned small but crucial early film roles in Roman Polanski's horror classic "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) and Mike Nichols' adaptation of the anti-war novel "Catch-22" (1970).
But he leaped to leading man status in Elaine May's cult comedy "The Heartbreak Kid." He played an immature salesman who strays from his new wife (Jeannie Berlin, May's daughter) and falls for another woman (Cybill Shepherd) during his honeymoon. (The movie was remade with Ben Stiller in 2007.)
Grodin achieved greater fame with roles in Warren Beatty's fantasy "Heaven Can Wait" (1978), Albert Brooks' media satire "Real Life" (1979), the Neil Simon-scripted comedy "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), the heist-themed "Great Muppet Caper" (1981) and the Steve Martin vehicle "The Lonely Guy" (1984).
He delivered one of his most beloved performances in Martin Brest's "Midnight Run" (1988), playing a seemingly straight-laced accountant who embezzles a fortune from the mob and gets tracked down by Robert De Niro's gruff bounty hunter. The film, one of the great buddy comedies of the 1980s, later became a mainstay of cable television.
In the early 1990s, Grodin introduced himself to younger viewers as an anxious father in "Beethoven" (1992) a children's romp about a slobbering St. Bernard dog. Grodin reprised his role the following year in "Beethoven's 2nd."
But after a few more screen credits in the 90s (including turns in the Washington rom-com "Dave" and the Mike Myers project "So I Married An Axe Murderer"), Brodin took an extended break from acting.
He made his mark in other mediums, though. He wrote several books, hosted a short-lived talk show on the cable channel CNBC, offered political commentary on the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes II," and continued to delight audiences on Carson's show. (CNBC and NBC News are units of NBCUniversal.)
In the 2010s, Grodin resurfaced in film and television projects, playing a documentary filmmaker in Noah Baumbach's dramedy "While We're Young" (2014) and a blunt but philosophical doctor in Louis C.K.'s series "Louie."