LOS ANGELES — Barney Martin, a former New York City detective who went into show business and became best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s father Morty on the comedian’s hit television series, has died. He was 82.
Martin died of cancer Monday at his Studio City home, according to his publicist, Jennifer Glassman.
Born March 3, 1923, in the New York City borough of Queens, Martin served as a navigator in the Air Force during World War II before starting a 20-year career as a New York City police detective.
Martin showed a talent for making deputy police commissioners laugh during presentations. In the 1950s, he began writing on the side for comedy shows such as “Name That Tune” and “The Steve Allen Show.”
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Martin got his start in film when Mel Brooks featured him in “The Producers” in 1968. That role launched Martin into Broadway theater, where he appeared in several musicals, including “South Pacific,” “The Fantasticks,” All American” and “How Now Dow Jones.”
He is credited with creating the role of Roxy’s unappreciated husband, Amos Hart, in the musical “Chicago.”
Martin also appeared in several television series in the 1990s, including “The Tony Randall Show,” “US,” “Sydney” and “Zorro and Son.”
In “Seinfeld,” Martin was the third actor to play the part of Seinfeld’s father and became the one most identified with the role of the Florida retiree.
He said at the show’s wrap party in 1998: “Playing Jerry’s dad was like having whipped cream on top of a mountain of ice cream.”
He is survived by his wife and son. A daughter died in 2002 of cancer.
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