Michael Lerner, a veteran character actor, and Oscar nominee passed away at the age of 81 over the weekend.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941, Lerner studied drama at Brooklyn College and earned a Fulbright scholarship before joining the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. His Hollywood career began shortly after and he went on to appear in a number of films and television shows throughout the decades.
Some of his earliest work included appearances on “The Doris Day Show”, “The Bob Newhart Show” and “M*A*S*H”. His first film role came in 1970 as Leo in “Alex in Wonderland”. He went on to appear in films such as “The Ski Bum”, “The Candidate” and “Outlaw Blues”.
Lerner received an Oscar nomination for his performance as studio executive Jack Lipnick in the 1991 film “Barton Fink”, starring John Turturro, John Goodman, and Judy Davis. He also starred in the 1995 CBS drama “Courthouse” as Judge Myron Winkleman, and in the 1996 “Clueless” television series.
Throughout the 2000’s and 2010’s, Lerner appeared as Fulton in the holiday classic “Elf”, and in TV shows like “Law and Order: SVU”, “The Good Wife” and “Glee”.
His nephew Sam Lerner made the announcement on social media Sunday, saying, “We lost a legend last night. It’s hard to put into words how brilliant my Uncle Michael was, and how influential he was to me. His stories always inspired me and made me fall in love with acting. He was the coolest, most confident, talented guy, and the fact that he was my blood will always make me feel special. Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was— in the best way. I’m so lucky I got to spend so much time with him, and we’re all lucky we can continue to watch his work for the rest of time. RIP Michael, enjoy your unlimited Cuban cigars, comfy chairs, and endless movie marathon.”
Michael Lerner’s career spanned decades and he was known for his talent, confidence, and incredible stories. Many Fans posted on Twitter regarding Lerner’s passing.
One fan posted,
Such sad news about Michael Lerner. So many great roles. I always loved him most for Godzilla ’98. A brilliant gag on Roger Ebert, with Michael playing Mayor Ebert of NYC. Very funny. I adore that movie so much. R.I.P. 🙏❤️ pic.twitter.com/fdRYummlyH
— 🎥 Paul-B Loves Movies 📺 (@Paul_Berney) April 9, 2023
While another said,
RIP Michael Lerner, a real one. Gotta love an actor who gets an Oscar nomination for “Barton Fink” and then three years later plays a sci-fi prison warden in “No Escape” and rocks in both roles pic.twitter.com/dlqpo24Ury
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) April 9, 2023