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Farewell to Kenneth Mars and Len Lesser

February 18th, 2011

I wanted to acknowledge, today, the passing of two terrific comedic actors: Kenneth Mars and Len Lesser.

Kenneth Mars was a mainstay of Mel Brooks’ early films, most notably The Producers (in which he played Franz Liebkind, a Nazi whose love for the fallen Reich spurred him to write the play “Springtime for Hitler”), and Young Frankenstein (in which he played another comedic German, the one-wooden-armed Inspector Kemp).  Mr. Mars absolutely owns both of those films.  I’m particularly fond of Inspector Kemp.  I could listen to his mangled English all day.  (“Ah rrriot ees un ugly sink!”)

For more on Mr. Mars’ life and career, click here.  (And props to the New York Times for even making note of Mr. Mars’ one-time guest appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!)

Len Lesser is best known to me — and probably most American TV-watchers! — as Uncle Leo from Seinfeld.  It’s tough to overstate just how perfect his performance as Leo was — there’s a reason the Seinfeld writers kept bringing back that character!  (“They said they were sending an Asian woman!”)  But Mr. Lesser also had a long and varied career in TV and film.  His credits include The Outlaw Josey Wales and Birdman of Alcatraz.  For more on Mr. Lesser, click here.

Both men will be missed.

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