PASSINGS: Cliff Osmond

Cliff Osmond, 75, a character actor who was a regular presence in director Billy Wilder’s comedies of the 1960s and ‘70s and appeared in dozens of TV series into the 1990s, died Dec. 22 of pancreatic cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades, said his daughter Margaret Ebrahim.

Osmond got his start in television in the early 1960s with guest starring roles on a range of programs such as “The Rifleman,” “Twilight Zone,” “The Untouchables,” “Wagon Train,” “The Flying Nun,” “Gunsmoke,” “All in the Family,” “Police Story,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Starsky and Hutch” and “Murder She Wrote.”

Wilder first cast Osmond, who stood well over 6 feet tall, as a gendarme in “Irma la Douce” (1963). In the 1964 sex farce “Kiss Me, Stupid,” he played aspiring songwriter Barney to Dean Martin’s Dino; he was Purkey, an investigator of insurance fraud, in the 1966 dark comedy “The Fortune Cookie”; and he had another supporting role opposite Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in “The Front Page” (1974).

Osmond’s other film roles included comic parts in Disney’s “The North Avenue Irregulars” and “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again” (both 1979).


He also wrote and directed “The Penitent,” a 1988 independent film starring Raul Julia and Armand Assante.

He was born Clifford Osman Ebrahim in Jersey City, N.J., in 1937, and later began using a stage name. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s in business administration from UCLA, where he also studied theater arts.

In addition to performing, Osmond had a thriving career as an acting coach.

Times staff reports


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