Ron Leibman


Actor
Ron Leibman

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
October 11, 1937

Biography

This charismatic character lead has excelled in quirky, explosive, often Jewish, types and has been prominent on stage and TV since the 1960s. Ron Leibman was particularly applauded as the union organizer Ruben Warshawsky in Martin Ritt's "Norma Rae" (1979), in his Emmy-winning role as "Kaz" (CBS, 1978-79) and as Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner's two-part Broadway epic "Angels in America" (1993...

Family & Companions

Linda Lavin
Wife
Actor. Married September 7, 1969; first wife; divorced 1980.
Jessica Walter
Wife
Actor. Married June 26, 1983; second wife; acted in such films as "The Group" (1966), "Play Misty for Me" (1971), "The Flamingo Kid" (1984); appeared with Leibman in the HBO comedy special, "Day-to-Day Affairs" (1985) and on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Rumors".

Biography

This charismatic character lead has excelled in quirky, explosive, often Jewish, types and has been prominent on stage and TV since the 1960s. Ron Leibman was particularly applauded as the union organizer Ruben Warshawsky in Martin Ritt's "Norma Rae" (1979), in his Emmy-winning role as "Kaz" (CBS, 1978-79) and as Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner's two-part Broadway epic "Angels in America" (1993-94).

Raised in an upper middle class family on Manhattan's Central Park West, Leibman broke into theater in 1959. After enjoying some success in "Dear Me, the Sky Is Falling" (1963) and "We Bombed in New Haven" (1968), he began making occasional feature films. The actor debuted as the gorilla-dressing brother in Carl Reiner's "Where's Poppa?" (1970). His other best-remembered parts included David Greenberg, the real-life street cop who formed half of the team nicknamed "The Super Cops" (1973) and as the smarmy antagonist in "Rhinestone" (1984). Leibman's other films have proven generally disappointing. He starred in Arthur Hiller's mistitled "Romantic Comedy" (1983) and was the commandant of a military school in the lame teen farce "Up the Academy" (1980), from which he attempted to have his name removed from the credits. The exceptions were the fine Australian-made horse racing saga, "Phar Lap" (1984) and Sidney Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1997), in which he played an ambitious district attorney.

In general, Leibman has found his talents unrewarded in Hollywood, but he has kept busy onstage in the modestly successful Neil Simon comedies, "I Ought to Be in Pictures" (1980) and "Rumors" (1989), in the latter alongside his second wife, Jessica Walter. He enjoyed a notable triumph onstage with his blistering, Tony-winning portrait of Joseph McCarthy's venomous right-hand man Roy Cohn in "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches" and "Angels in America: Perestroika." Leibman also garnered controversy for his portrayal of Shylock in a 1994 Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Leibman's larger-than-life approach to roles often seemed ill-suited to the small screen as well. Although he has begun working in TV in the early 60s, he has not been able to find a successful series berth. While he earned praise and an Emmy for "Kaz," a show which he also created, it did not pull in the ratings. Neither did "Pacific Station" (NBC, 1991), a short-lived detective series. While Leibman brought class and verve to the recurring role of ruthless magazine publisher Allen Rush on the CBS sudser "Central Park West/CPW" (1995-96) and despite a heavy promotional effort, that series was also quickly canceled. He has found some success in the occasional role as the uptight father of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) on the hit NBC sitcom "Friends."

Formerly married to actress Linda Lavin, Leibman married Jessica Walter in 1983.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

A Little Help (2010)
Garden State (2004)
Dr Cohen
Auto Focus (2002)
Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (2002)
Avram ("Greta")
Dummy (2002)
Lou Schoichet
Just the Ticket (1998)
Barry The Book
Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
Don King: Only in America (1997)
Terrorist on Trial: The United States vs. Salim Ajami (1988)
Seven Hours To Judgement (1988)
Many Happy Returns (1986)
Christmas Eve (1986)
Huffner
Rhinestone (1984)
Door to Door (1984)
Larry Price
Phar Lap (1983)
Dave Davis
Romantic Comedy (1983)
Leo
Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981)
Rivkin: Bounty Hunter (1981)
Up The Academy (1980)
Norma Rae (1979)
A Question Of Guilt (1978)
Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
The Art of Crime (1975)
Roman Grey
The Super Cops (1974)
Greenberg
Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)
Mike
Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)
Paul Lazzaro
The Hot Rock (1972)
[Stan] Murch
Where's Poppa? (1970)
Sidney Hocheiser

Cast (Special)

Sally Field: Defying Gravity (2000)
Ninth Annual Genesis Awards (1995)
Presenter
The 47th Annual Tony Awards (1993)
Performer
In the Wings: Angels in America on Broadway (1993)
Class Act: A Teacher's Story (1987)
Sam Greene
Day-to-Day Affairs (1985)
The Screen Actors Guild 50th Anniversary Celebration (1984)
Side By Side (1984)
Joey Caruso
Steve Martin's the Winds of Whoopie (1983)
Twilight Theater (1982)
Linda in Wonderland (1980)
Guest
The Outside Man (1977)

Writer (Special)

Side By Side (1984)
Writer
Dusty (1983)
Writer

Music (Special)

Side By Side (1984)
Theme Song Performer ("Side By Side")

Special Thanks (Special)

Side By Side (1984)
Writer
Dusty (1983)
Writer

Misc. Crew (Special)

Dusty (1983)
Other

Life Events

1959

Made acting debut in "A View from the Bridge" at the Barnard Summer Theatre

1959

Off-Broadway debut, "Legend of Lovers"

1963

Broadway debut, "Dear Me, the Sky Is Falling"

1963

Made early TV appearance in episode of "The DuPont Show" (NBC)

1967

Was a member of the Yale Repertory Company

1970

Played first notable role in a feature film, the black comedy, "Where's Poppa?"

1973

Co-starred with David Selby in "The Super Cops"

1979

Had best feature film role in "Norma Rae"

1980

Sued Warner Brothers to have his name removed from the credits and advertising of the unfunny "Animal House" rip-off, "Up the Academy"

1984

Co-wrote the script for, and performed (with co-star Charles Durning) the theme song to, the ABC comedy pilot, "Side by Side"

1988

Last film for nearly a decade, "Seven Hours to Judgment", directed by Beau Bridges

1989

Starred opposite wife Jessica Walter on Broadway in playwright Neil Simon's "Rumors"

1996

Began playing recurring role of Rachel's father on the hit NBC sitcom "Friends"

1997

Returned to features in supporting role in Sidney Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan"

1998

Co-starred in the short-lived Fox sitcom "Holding the Baby"

Family

Murray Leibman
Father
Worked in the garment business.
Grace Leibman
Mother
Brooke Bowman
Step-Daughter
Mother Jessica Walter; born c. 1971; attended Duke University as an English major.

Companions

Linda Lavin
Wife
Actor. Married September 7, 1969; first wife; divorced 1980.
Jessica Walter
Wife
Actor. Married June 26, 1983; second wife; acted in such films as "The Group" (1966), "Play Misty for Me" (1971), "The Flamingo Kid" (1984); appeared with Leibman in the HBO comedy special, "Day-to-Day Affairs" (1985) and on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Rumors".

Bibliography