Celebrity News April 09, 2023
Michael Lerner, Oscar Nominee, Dies at 81
Acclaimed actor Michael Lerner, Oscar-nominated for his work in "Barton Fink," died Saturday at 81.
His death was announced by his nephew, actor Sam Lerner of "The Goldbergs" fame. The younger Lerner posted an eclectic series of images of his uncle on Instagram, writing, "We lost a legend last night. It’s hard to put into words how brilliant my uncle Michael was, and how influential he was to me. His stories always inspired me and made me fall in love with acting. He was the coolest, most confident, talented guy, and the fact that he was my blood will always make me feel special."
"Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was," he went on, "in the best way. I’m so lucky I got to spend so much time with him, and we’re all lucky we can continue to watch his work for the rest of time. RIP Michael, enjoy your unlimited Cuban cigars, comfy chairs, and endless movie marathon 💖."
Lerner was born June 22, 1941, in Brooklyn. He appeared on TV in a quiz show as a teen and began his long career in the theater while still at school.
A Fulbright Scholar, he lived with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the '60s, appearing in her 1968 short "Smile."
Though he built an extensive career on the stage — including a high-profile turn in the 2002 play "Up for Grabs" on the West End opposite Madonna — Lerner also racked up nearly 200 film and TV appearances, beginning with guest spots on shows including "The Brady Bunch" (1969) and "The Doris Day Show" (1969 & 1970).
He was Cher's dad for 18 episodes of the short-lived "Clueless" series (1996-1997), and recurred on "Glee" as Sidney Greene (2013-2014).
Lerner's film debut was in "Alex in Wonderland" (1970) for writer-director Paul Mazursky.
Along with 1991's "Barton Fink," some of his most memorable films include "The Candidate" (1972), "The Other Side of Midnight" (1977), "Goldengirl" (1979), "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1981), "Strange Invaders" (1983), "Anguish" (1987), "Vibes" (1988), "Eight Men Out" (1988), "Harlem Nights" (1989), "Newsies" (1992), "Radioland Murders" (1994), "The Road to Wellville" (1994), "The Beautician and the Beast" (1997), "Godzilla" (1998), "Elf" (2003), "Poster Boy" (2004), "Life During Wartime" (2009), "A Serious Man" (2009), and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014).
Lerner based his Oscar-nominated performance in "Barton Fink" on fabled studio exec Louis B. Mayer, and actually played Mayer in the last film he ever made, 2022's "First Oscar," a Russian production.
In 2012, Lerner auctioned off his legendary collection of rare books via Bonhams, including two 1665 editions of "Aesop's Fables," an advance copy of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," and a first limited association copy of Ernest Hemingway's "In Our Time."
A cigar buff from way back, Lerner was also known as one of the card players in a regular poker game with such famous names as Milton Berle, Charles Bronson, Richard Dreyfuss and Ed Asner.
He is survived by his younger brother, his nephew Sam, and his niece Jenny.