US actor Charles Grodin, who scored as a caddish newlywed in The Heartbreak Kid and later starred alongside Robert De Niro in the comic thriller Midnight Run has died at the age of 86.
Grodin died on Tuesday in Wilton, Connecticut, from bone marrow cancer, his son, Nicholas Grodin, said.
Known for his dead-pan style and everyday looks, Grodin also appeared in Beethoven, Dave, The Woman in Red, Rosemary’s Baby and Heaven Can Wait.
On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn in the long-running 1970s comedy Same Time, Next Year, and found many other outlets for his talents.
With bone-dry understatement, Grodin could steal entire scenes with just a look. His commitment, whether acting opposite De Niro or Miss Piggy, was unsurpassed.
Steve Martin, who co-starred with Grodin in 1984’s The Lonely Guy, remembered him as “one of the funniest people I ever met”.
In the 1990s, Grodin made his mark as a liberal commentator on radio and TV.
He also wrote plays and television scripts, winning an Emmy for his work on a 1997 Paul Simon special, and wrote several books humorously ruminating on his ups and downs in show business.
Grodin became a star in the 1970s, but might have broken through years earlier. He auditioned for the title role in Mike Nichols’ 1967 classic The Graduate, but the part went instead to Dustin Hoffman.
In 1988’s Midnight Run, Grodin was a bail-jumping accountant who took millions from a mobster, with De Niro the bounty hunter trying to bring him cross-country to Los Angeles.
Grodin and De Niro improvised in many scenes in the film, revered as among the greatest buddy comedies.
After 1994’s My Summer Story, Grodin largely abandoned acting.
From 1995 to 1998, he hosted a talk show on CNBC cable network. He moved to MSNBC and then to CBS’ 60 Minutes II.
He returned to the big screen in 2006 as Zach Braff’s know-it-all father-in-law in The Ex. More recent credits include the films An Imperfect Murder and The Comedian and the TV series Louie.
Grodin was born Charles Grodinsky in Pittsburgh in 1935, son of a wholesale dry goods seller who died when Charles was 18.
He had a daughter, the comedian Marion Grodin, with first wife Julia Ferguson, while he and second wife, Elissa Durwood, had a son, Nicholas.