Herb Edelman

Active - 1967 - 1993  |   Born - Nov 5, 1932   |   Died - Jul 21, 1996   |   Genres - Comedy, Mystery, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

If character actor Herb Edelman was one of the more successful stage and screen purveyors of "Everyman" roles, it was probably because he'd held down an astonishing array of meat-and-potato jobs before settling into acting. Edelman studied to be a veterinarian at Cornell University, but left during the first year. He took a tentative stab at journalism before toiling as an Armed Forces radio operator and announcer. While stationed in the Far East, Edelman entertained the notion of becoming a "Jewish Buddhist." He returned to his hometown to attend Brooklyn College, dropped out to become a hotel manager, was briefly the "straight" half of a comedy team, worked in advertising, drove a hack, and dropped back into college. Finally turning to acting full time in summer stock, Edelman began picking up small roles in New York productions, including the scene-stealing exhausted delivery man inNeil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (1965), a role he recreated for the 1967 film version. Forming strong bonds with both Simon and with Barefoot star Robert Redford, Edelman would later appear in Simon's The Odd Couple and California Suite, and in the Redford/Barbara Streisand vehicle The Way We Were (1973). In 1968, Edelman co-starred with Bob Denver in the two-season TV sitcom The Good Guys. Nine years later, he starred as one-half of the title role in the weekly TV comedy/fantasy Big John, Little John (Robbie Rist was the "Little" one). Other TV series featuring Herb Edelman on a regular or recurring basis included Ladies Man, 9 to 5, Strike Force and Murder She Wrote. Fans of the sitcom The Golden Girls may remember Edelman for playing Stanley, Bea Arthur's irksome ex-husband. Edelman died of emphysema at the Motion Picture Hospital in Los Angeles on July 21, 1996; he was 62.

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