March 3, 1923|
Queens, New York
March 21, 2005 (aged 82)|
Studio City, California
|Cause of death||Lung cancer|
Barney Martin (March 3, 1923 – March 21, 2005) was an American actor, comedy writer and New York City Police Department detective. He is best known for playing Morty Seinfeld, father of Jerry, on the sitcom Seinfeld.
Born in Queens, New York, Martin served in the U.S. Army Air Force as a navigator during World War II and then was an NYPD officer for twenty years, working his way up to detective. He got his start as a comedian while still a police officer, giving humorous presentations to the deputy commissioners.
Martin once commented that many Jewish Seinfeld fans told him how much his character reminded them of their father. Martin himself was of Irish Catholic extraction.
Entering show business as a stand-in for Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners in 1955-56 and as a part-time writer for Steve Allen in the 1950s, he was discovered by Mel Brooks in 1968, who cast him in The Producers. That year, he also played the role of Hank in Charly. He went on to act in dozens of films, including the role of Liza Minnelli's unemployed father in the hit 1981 film Arthur and its 1988 sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks.
On television, he appeared in two episodes of The Odd Couple, once in a very early episode as an irate fellow juror infuriated with Felix Unger's pestiness, and four years later as a fellow subway train passenger. Shortly after, Martin co-starred with Tony Randall for two seasons in The Tony Randall Show as court reporter Jack Terwilliger. Throughout the run of this show he was second billing only to Randall himself. In 1979 he was cast as the title character in Norman Lear's final TV series concept, McGurk: A Dog's Life. Martin was cast to play a character similar to Lear's earlier creation, Archie Bunker, but played as a dog. Only the pilot was completed. In 1990, he co-starred with Valerie Bertinelli and Matthew Perry in the CBS sitcom Sydney. In 1987, he appeared in the pilot episode of 21 Jump Street as Johnny Depp's partner. In 1993, Martin played the recurring role of "Pete Peters" on the Don Rickles sit-com Daddy Dearest.
In 1975, Martin originated the role of Amos Hart in Chicago. He appeared in many more musicals during his career, most notably South Pacific, The Fantasticks and How Now, Dow Jones. Much of Martin's work has been in television, where he had a long career as a character actor. He played a gangster called the "Cheese Man" in a Golden Girls episode. He played a love interest for Thelma Harper in the Hawaii episode of Mama's Family, and he played the father of Frank Fontana on Murphy Brown. He appeared in an episode of Full House as Ranger Roy, the host of a popular kids' TV show. In 1982, he appeared on Barney Miller in the episode "Obituary".
On March 21, 2005, he died of lung cancer in Studio City, Los Angeles, California. He was 82 years old. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.
- Obituary for Barney Martin in The New York Times
- Barney Martin at the Internet Movie Database
- Barney Martin at the Internet Broadway Database
- Barney Martin at Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Barney Martin at Find a Grave
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