Skip to main content

'Meatballs' Actor Harvey Atkin Dead At 74 (Photos)

Legendary Comedic Actor Jay Thomas Dies At 69 Promo Image

Harvey Atkin, the mustachioed actor best known for his roles in "Cagney & Lacey" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," has passed away at the age of 74 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The actor's death was confirmed in a statement by Larry Goldhar, his longtime friend and agent.

"It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved friend, husband, father and grandfather Harvey passed away peacefully last night following his battle with cancer," Goldhar said, according to the New York Daily News.

Atkin was born in Toronto, Canada, on Dec. 18, 1942. His breakthrough role as an actor came in 1979 when he was cast as camp director Morty Melnick in the comedy "Meatballs." Directed by Ivan Reitman, "Meatballs" also starred Bill Murray, Kate Lynch and Chris Makepeace.

Throughout the 1980s, Atkin appeared in nearly 100 episodes of CBS' "Cagney & Lacey," a police procedural show in which he played Staff Sergeant captain Ronald Coleman. Starring alongside him were Tyne Daly, Sharon Glass and Al Waxman, the latter of whom Atkin worked with on the CBC comedy "King of Kensington," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Image placeholder title

Later in his career, Atkin played Judge Alan Ridenour on NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." He also played a judge on the USA Network series "Suits," according to Entertainment Weekly.

Among his other film and TV credits were "Funeral Home," "Atlantic City," "Ticket to Heaven" and "Silver Streak."

Atkin was a prolific voice actor as well, lending his voice to the animated movie "Heavy Metal," the "Beetlejuice" series and "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show." His voice was also used in a number of TV and radio commercials, most notably for Leon's Furniture in Canada.

In a 1993 interview with Radio And Production, Atkin described the challenges of voice acting.

Image placeholder title

"In a thirty second spot, you don't have two and a half hours on stage to get their attention," he said. "In a two hour television show, if you come out and miss your mark by six inches, the camera's just gonna slide over. Or, somebody sitting in the sixth row isn't going to know that you didn't hit the end of the sofa. When you have a thirty second radio spot, you've got five seconds to grab them. If you haven't hooked them in five seconds, there's no point in going through the rest of the spot."

Atkin is survived by his wife, Cecilia, his daughter, Lisa, his son, Danny, as well as three sisters and five grandchildren.

Source: New York Daily News, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Radio And Production / Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano/U.S. Air Force, Photofest via The Hollywood Reporter, Everett Collection via Entertainment Weekly

Popular Video