Selma Diamond, a comedy writer and television and film actress currently seen as the chain-smoking, sarcastic bailiff on the television series “Night Court,” died Monday of lung cancer.
Miss Diamond, who was 64, had entered Cedars Sinai Medical Center May 1 for treatment, said hospital spokesman Ron Wise.
She came to acting from writing, where she started by selling gags to various comedians.
On television she wrote for “The Milton Berle Show,” “Caesar’s Hour,” “The Perry Como Show” and “Ozzie and Harriet.”
Miss Diamond had a unique style of comedy in both writing and acting, said Carl Reiner, the director and actor who worked with her as a writer on “Caesar’s Hour” during the 1954-1957 television seasons.
“She was very terse,” said Reiner in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from New York City. “Even in her work on ‘Night Court,’ she didn’t go into any long routines. She would just walk in and drop a few plums.”
Miss Diamond’s first movie appearance was in 1963 as a crazed fortune seeker in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” She also appeared in “Bang the Drum Slowly,” “My Favorite Year,” “Lovesick,” “The Twilight Zone” and most recently, “All of Me.”
She also was a frequent guest on both the Jack Paar and Johnny Carson versions of the “Tonight” show.
There are no known survivors, and funeral services are pending.