Fans and fellow actors feel that Charles Grodin’s death is a great loss. Not only did he contribute to film, TV, and stage, but he passionately helped others through his advocacy. His son, Nicholas, told The New York Times that his dad passed away on May 18, 2021; he was 86 years old.
Grodin died at his home in Wilton, Connecticut, of bone marrow disease.
His first film performance was in 1954 as a drummer boy in Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Four years later, 1958-62, the actor began performing in single episode parts in four different television series. He landed another part in a film in the 1964 film “Sex and the College Girl,” which was first released in Chicago, Illinois, on Feb. 27, 1970.
The actor made deadpan satire appear to be as easily achieved as playing sinister or rollicking comedic roles. Grodin, may not be a household name, but once a person sees his photo, they remember him in several films.
He appeared alongside Goldy Hawn and Chevy Chase in the 1980 movie “Seems Like Old Times.” In 1992 and 1993, Grodin was tormented by a huge Saint Bernard in the family comedy sequels “Beethoven” and “Beethoven’s 2nd.”
In a couple of earlier flicks, he went from playing a shady businessman in “King Kong” (1976) to a slick lawyer in the remake of “Heaven Can Wait” (1978).
He was a doctor in 1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby” and a despicable newlywed/sporting goods salesman in “The Heartbreak Kid” (1972).
In 1988’s “Midnight Run,” Grodin is likely remembered, starring opposite Robert DeNiro as a convict, guilty of embezzlement, Jonathan Mardukas.
At one point in the action road comedy, Grodin told DeNiro’s character, Jack Walsh, that he cannot take a plane due to aviophobia, acrophobia, and claustrophobia. To which DeNiro responds: “I’ll tell you what: if you don’t cooperate, you’re gonna suffer from “fistophobia.”
It is possible, Grodin might not be remembered as an activist. Actor Anthony Rapp posted a 3-part tweet talking about the deceased actor’s passion for the advocacy work he does not flaunt.
Rapp and Grodin worked together in a “Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit” 2012 episode entitled “Lessons Learned.” They portrayed Nathan and Brett Forrester, respectively. Brett, an older teacher at a boy’s school, defended accusations against sexual relationships with the young men. Grodin’s character’s gentle response was convincing — he said it happened a long time ago, and at that time, they thought it was normal. He appeared to be quite comfortable with that explanation.
In his tweets, Rapp said it was an honor to work with Grodin:
He was wonderful to be around. What was especially impressive was hearing about the unheralded, extensive advocacy work he was doing on behalf of incarcerated women. He was thoroughly committed to it.
And unlike so many celebrities who attached themselves to causes, he was on the ground, in the trenches, quietly & passionately working to improve the lives &reverse the sentences of these women. He left the set on the last day of our shoot to head up to a prison, in fact.
I’d already been a great admirer of his seminal work in films, but learning of this dimension of his life’s work left a deep and lasting impression. We’ve lost one of the greats. #RIPCharlesGrodin.
Grodin’s book “How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am” he wrote candidly wrote about “major and private moments that shaped his life,” according to Grand Central Publishing. Writing about his activism, the book reviewer wrote: “But it is Grodin’s tales of the lives he’s helped save with his relentless advocacy work that make you realize was a great guy [he] really is.
At the time of the review in 2009, “the author is donating 100 percent of his royalties from sales…to Mentoring USA.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Hollywood Reporter: Charles Grodin, Deliciously Droll Actor, Dies at 86; by Duane Byrge and Mike Barnes
Grand Central Publishing: How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am; by Charles Grodin
IMDb: Charles Grodin
Featured and Top Image by Terryballard Courtesy of Wikimedia – GNU Free Documentation License
Inset Image by Adam Schartoff Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License