Michael Lerner Cause of De@th: Actor of “Elf” and “Barton Fink” Passes Away
Barton Fink, of “Roseanne” fame, has died. According to an Instagram post by his nephew Sam Lerner on April 8, 2023, Michael died away at 81. You’ve likely seen this actor in anything, whether it’s one of his many guest spots on television or a highly praised film. Michael was a talented actor who had his career cut short early.
Michael Lerner Cause of De@th
Michael Lerner’s de@th occurred under mysterious circumstances. Michael was 81 when he died away, so it’s possible that he had health issues that weren’t discussed until after his de@th.
Michael Lerner died in a hospital in Burbank, California, on Saturday, Apri 8. He was a seasoned character actor whose hundreds of film and television credits included small but memorable appearances in “Barton Fink” and “Elf.” He was 81.
According to his brother Ken, he has been experiencing issues from brain seizures since November. Mr. Lerner was a busy working actor with a five-decade cinematic career from appearances in theatrical shows and television episodes.
He played a brash publishing executive in Will Ferrell’s holiday comedy “Elf” in 2003. Oscar nomination for best-supporting actor in 1992 for his portrayal of explosive movie studio magnate Jack Lipnick in Joel and Ethan Coen’s darkly comedic “Barton Fink” (1991).
Before the release of “Barton Fink,” he told The New York Times that he tried to play the part of an archetype rather than a stereotype. Mr. Lerner, cigar smoke wafting from his Hollywood Hills home, remarked, “You have no idea how difficult it was for me not to play him with a cigar. “That would have been a big mistake.”
Even though Mr. Lerner only appeared in three scenes, he gave depth to a major player. When asked about his difficulty tapping into his ego and strength, he stated, “I knew I was being enormously funny, and I knew I was saying outrageous things.”
Mr. Lerner, who began his acting career at the end of Hollywood’s golden era, based his depiction of Lipnick on the real-life magnate Louis B. Mayer, who co-founded MGM Studios. According to Mr. Lerner’s brother, he spent his whole life learning about Mayer and worked on a movie about him when he passed away.
Michael Charles Lerner was born in Brooklyn on June 22, 1941, to antique wholesaler Joseph Lerner and secretary Blanche (Halpern) Lerner. Michael was the middle of three boys. Mr. Lerner received his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College and his master’s in English theater from the University of California, Berkeley. Then he spent two years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright grant.
Before his move to San Francisco in the late 1960s, when he studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater, he worked as a counterman at several New York City delicatessens—the Times said that he kept a self-inflicted injury on his index finger from slicing a tongue sandwich as a reminder of those times.
Mr. Lerner’s sole living relative is his brother, Ken. Arnold, his elder sibling, passed away in 2004. According to his actor brother, Mr. Lerner’s breadth and range sprang from his love of art, first-edition books, opera, and hockey. According to Ken Lerner, “He always brought an intelligence to the characters that he played.”
Mr. Lerner’s signature cigar smoke helped him get parts in many movies, including “The Missiles of October,” a 1974 television drama about the Cuban missile crisis, in which he played Pierre Salinger, John F. Kennedy’s White House press secretary. He “out-Pierred Pierre,” as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis put it.
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He has also been on “M*A*S*H,” “The Brady Bunch,” and “Hill Street Blues,” and he portrayed Rachel Blanchard’s character’s father in the TV adaptation of “Clueless” (although he was replaced after the first season).
His brother noted that one of his favorite parts was as Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassin, in the 1978 TV drama “Ruby and Oswald.” In 2002, he starred with Madonna in the West End “Up for Grabs” production in London. “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” a film released in 2014, featured him as a senator.
“I would love people to know that I am a chameleon,” Mr. Lerner told The Times in 1991. “That I can play anything.”
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