Wednesday, December 22, 2010

RIP Steve Landesberg

Sadly, Steve Landesberg died yesterday from colon cancer. As a nerdy kid growing up in the 70s, his character detective Arthur Dietrich on the show "Barney Miller" was a great comfort. It was one of the few places you could see a positive, but realistic picture of what it was to be smart, but alienated from those around you. He was written and played beautifully as well-read and bright, with a sly and dry sense of humor, but always held slightly at arm's length by his co-workers. It was inspiring to see it portrayed so accurately, yet positively.

I was fortunate to see Landesberg do his stand-up in the early 80s -- don't remember if he was at the Lyric in Baltimore or at Shriver Hall on campus at Hopkins, but I remember his saying that he was awed by Abe Vigoda's timing, that he had a slow delivery that made his punch lines the focus of the episodes. He said then he realized that it was actually because he was so old he couldn't remember the line. Ironically, Abe Vigoda out lasted him.

RIP Steve Landesberg and thanks for the inspiration and the laughs.