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Barney Martin, 82; Veteran Actor Played Father on ‘Seinfeld’

From a Times Staff Writer

Barney Martin, a film, television and stage actor who became known to millions of TV viewers in the 1990s as Jerry Seinfeld’s dad on the popular “Seinfeld” show, has died. He was 82.

Martin died Monday of cancer at his home in Studio City.

Martin was a New York City police detective who used humor to spice up speeches for deputy commissioners when he started in show business by writing on the side in the 1950s for “Name That Tune” and “The Steve Allen Show.” He began acting in the 1960s, and Mel Brooks cast him in the “The Producers” in 1968. In 1981, he played Liza Minnelli’s father in “Arthur.”

Martin also appeared several times on Broadway, including the role of murderer Roxie Hart’s husband, Amos, in the original production of the Bob Fosse musical “Chicago,” in 1975. Martin introduced the song “Mr. Cellophane.”

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Although Martin was the third actor to play Seinfeld’s father, he is the one most identified with the role of the Florida retiree, Morty. He once said that Morty’s job as a father was to save his son money.

“Morty’s whole drive is to take care of his family,” Martin said.

Among the more notable episodes involving his character was one in which Morty and his wife, Helen, played by Liz Sheridan, were the stars of their Florida condo association’s annual show. There was also the episode in which Morty invents the “Executive,” a beltless trench coat that Kramer wanted to sell.

Martin wore the raincoat to the show’s wrap party in 1998 and had the cast sign it. He said at the time: “Playing Jerry’s dad was like having whipped cream on top of a mountain of ice cream.”

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Martin is survived by his wife of 63 years, Catherine; a son, Donald; two grandsons and two great-grandsons. Memorial services are pending. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Actors Fund of America, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90036.


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