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Herbert Edelman

Herbert Edelman

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Also Known As: Herbert Edelman Died: July 21, 1996
Born: November 5, 1933 Cause of Death: emphysema
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, radio announcer (in Okinawa), comedian, copywriter, longshoreman, taxi driver

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Standing 6'5," prematurely bald and decidedly "ethnic," Herb Edelman had a long career as a character player of stage, screen and TV. He remains best known for his extensive work in the latter medium, generally in stints as a series regular or recurring character ("Welcome Back, Kotter"; "St. Elsewhere"; "Knots Landing"), very rarely as a lead. Edelman may be best recognized as Stanley Zbornak, the ne'er-do-well ex-husband of Bea Arthur's Dorothy on the hit sitcom "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1985-92).It is somewhat poignant to note that this nearly archetypal New Yorker grew up in Brooklyn's Coney Island with dreams of becoming a farmer. Edelman even attended Cornell University's School of Agriculture for six months before accepting his destiny. After a stint in the Army, he enrolled at Brooklyn College where he began acting. Dropping out of college and driving a cab to make ends meet, Edelman picked up a fateful fare--stage director Mike Nichols. Nichols cast him in his breakthrough Broadway role as the bewildered telephone repairman in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" in 1963. Edelman would reprise the role in the 1967 film version, again working with young lead Robert Redford. Even while appearing...

Standing 6'5," prematurely bald and decidedly "ethnic," Herb Edelman had a long career as a character player of stage, screen and TV. He remains best known for his extensive work in the latter medium, generally in stints as a series regular or recurring character ("Welcome Back, Kotter"; "St. Elsewhere"; "Knots Landing"), very rarely as a lead. Edelman may be best recognized as Stanley Zbornak, the ne'er-do-well ex-husband of Bea Arthur's Dorothy on the hit sitcom "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1985-92).

It is somewhat poignant to note that this nearly archetypal New Yorker grew up in Brooklyn's Coney Island with dreams of becoming a farmer. Edelman even attended Cornell University's School of Agriculture for six months before accepting his destiny. After a stint in the Army, he enrolled at Brooklyn College where he began acting. Dropping out of college and driving a cab to make ends meet, Edelman picked up a fateful fare--stage director Mike Nichols. Nichols cast him in his breakthrough Broadway role as the bewildered telephone repairman in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" in 1963. Edelman would reprise the role in the 1967 film version, again working with young lead Robert Redford. Even while appearing on Broadway, he kept driving a taxi, often picking up theatergoers who had just seen him on stage. Only in New York. . . . Edelman fit so comfortably into playwright Simon's world that he resurfaced in the major supporting role of Murray the Cop in the film version of "The Odd Couple" (1968) and in a smaller part in "California Suite" (1978).

The roles Edelman played are revealing as to how baldness has been represented in American pop culture--particularly in the presumably "liberated" 1960s and 70s. He tended to be a faintly ridiculous would-be participant in the sexual revolution, a Jewish "regular" guy or someone's uncle. Still some boomers may remember him as the co-star of "The Good Guys" (CBS, 1968-70), a likable sitcom which teamed him with Bob Denver, then fresh off of "Gilligan's Island." He was Bert Gramus to Denver's Rufus Butterworth, life-long buddies who pool their dough to buy a diner. Edelman again played a lead in the charming Saturday morning live-action fantasy series, "Big John, Little John" (NBC, 1976-77), as a junior high school science teacher who stumbles upon and partakes of the legendary Fountain of Youth. He subsequently finds himself transforming into a 12-year-old (Robbie Rist) at the most inopportune times. More typically, Edelman was a supporting player in short-lived sitcoms, cop dramas and numerous TV-movies. A frequent TV guest star, notably on "Murder, She Wrote," he also starred in a slew of sitcom pilots that failed to get picked up.

Edelman turned up in over a dozen features, playing the Russian premier in "In Like Flint" (1967), Barbara Streisand's radio producer in "The Way We Were" (1973) and Jerry Lewis' psychiatrist in "Cracking Up" (1983). Back on the small screen, he garnered two Emmy nominations for "Outstanding Guest Performer in a Comedy Series" in 1986/87 and 1987/88 for his work on "The Golden Girls." Edelman succumbed to a long battle with emphysema in 1996 at age 62.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Picking Up the Pieces (1985) Mac
2.
 Shooting Stars (1983) Rex
3.
 Smorgasbord (1983) Dr Jonas Pletchick
4.
 On the Right Track (1981) Sam
5.
 Cry For Love, A (1980) Jack
6.
 Marathon (1980) Saul Feigenbaum
7.
 California Suite (1978) Harry Michaels
8.
 Comedy Company, The (1978) Lester Dietz
9.
 Special Olympics (1978) Doug Ransom
10.
 Goin' Coconuts (1978) Sid
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn with dreams of becoming a farmer
:
Attended Cornell University's School of Agriculture for six months
:
Served as a corporal in the US Army
:
Enrolled in Brooklyn College where he began acting regularly
1961:
First stage role of note, played the Commodore in Boston production of "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad"
:
"Discovered" by director Mike Nichols while driving a cab
1963:
Broadway debut, "Lorenzo"
1963:
Breakthrough stage role, the telephone repairman in Broadway production of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park", directed by Mike Nichols
:
Continued to drive cab, often picking up audience members who had seen him perform
1966:
TV series debut, played the recurring role of Uncle Harry on the sitcom "Occasional Wife"
1967:
Reprised the role of the bewildered telephone repairman in film version of "Barefoot in the Park"
1968:
Portrayed Murray the cop in the film version of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple"
:
Turned down a role in Mike Nichols' film version of "Catch 22" to star in a TV series
:
Co-starred with Bob ("Gilligan's Island") Denver in the "buddy" sitcom, "The Good Guys"
1969:
TV-movie debut, "In Name Only", an ABC romantic comedy
1973:
Starred in the busted pilot for a NBC comedy-drama entitled "Kosta and His Family"
1974:
Co-starred with Tim Conway in "The Boys", an unsold sitcom pilot
:
Occasionally played Mo Epstein, "sweat hog" Juan's uncle, on the hit high school sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter"
:
Co-starred with Robbie Rist in the live-action Saturday morning NBC children's fantasy series "Big John, Little John", as a junior high school science teacher who discovers the fountain of youth
1978:
Starred in "Honest Al's A-OK Used Car and Trailer Rental Tigers", a busted pilot for a syndicated sitcom
:
Played the regular role of Reggie, a harried bookkeeper, on the short-lived sitcom "Ladies' Man"
:
Played a regular role, Deputy Commissioner Herbert Klein, on the ABC cop drama "Strike Force"
:
Played a regular, the good-natured salesman Harry, on the first season of the ABC sitcom spin-off "9 to 5"
:
Played a recurring role on the respected NBC medical drama "St. Elsewhere"
1983:
Final film role, co-starred as psychiatrist Dr. Jonas Pletchik in Jerry Lewis' "Cracking Up/Smorgasbord"
:
Played the recurring role of Bea Arthur's no-good ex-husband Stanley Zbornak on the hit NBC sitcom "The Golden Girls"
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Education

School of Agriculture, Cornell University: Ithaca , New York -
Brooklyn College: Brooklyn , New York - 1955 - 1958

Notes

Edelman was fluent in Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Yiddish, Hebrew, German and Russian.

Edelman was also a painter, sculptor and musician.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Louise Sorel. Actor. Soap villain on "Days of Our Lives"; married December in 1964; divorced.
wife:
Merrilyn Crosgrove. Divorced.
companion:
Christina Pickles. Actor.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Mayer Edelman. Businessman. Survived him.
mother:
Jennie Edelman. Deceased.
brother:
Marvin Edelman. Survived him.
sister:
Betty T Edelman. Survived him.
daughter:
Briana Edelman. Survived him.
daughter:
Jacy Edelman. Survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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