HomeNews'Barton Fink' Star Michael Lerner Dies at 81

‘Barton Fink’ Star Michael Lerner Dies at 81

Michael Lerner, a beloved actor well known for appearing in movies such as X-Men: Days of Future Past, Elf, and Godzilla has died. The iconic star passed away at the age of 81 on Saturday.

The unfortunate news of Lerner’s demise was confirmed by his nephew Sam who is noted for playing the role of Geoff Schwartz in the show named The Goldbergs. Read on to know the cause behind the death of Michael Lerner.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Lerner passes away at 81

Michael Lerner who bagged an Oscar nomination for his brilliant work in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1991 psychological comedy Barton Fink, has passed away. At the time of his death, he was 81 years old.

On April 9, 2023, Sunday, Michael’s nephew Sam who is also an actor by profession announced the heartbreaking news of the Elf star’s death on the social media platform Instagram.

“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,” Sam wrote alongside a series of pictures of the legendary actor.

Lerner went on to say, “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— in the best way.”

He concluded by writing, “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.”

As of this moment, the exact cause behind the death of Michael Lerner has not been disclosed publicly. The prolific actor is survived by his brother, Ken, and his nephew, Sam.

Here’s all you need to know about Michael Lerner (including his early life, acting career, and more)

Michael Lerner was an actor who was born on June 22, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York City, to Blanche and George Lerner. He was of Romanian-Jewish descent. As per Lerner, his dad “liked to  think he was an antiques dealer, but in all actuality he was a junk dealer.”

Lerner and his younger brother Ken were brought up in Red Hook, Brooklyn and in Solon, Ohio. His brother Ken, nephew Sam and niece Jenny are also actors. He made his TV debut at the young age of 13, as a “quiz kid” on a television program hosted by a local sportscaster.

Around the same time, Michael essayed the character of Willy Loman in a production of Death of a Salesman at Brooklyn College. Due to that experience, he learned that acting was his true calling.

As per his Imdb page, Lerner started to pursue a career in acting at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in the late ’60s. He played supporting roles in television series including “M*A*S*H,” “The Rockford Files,” “Starsky & Hutch” and “Hill Street Blues.”

Michael Lerner was an Oscar-nominated actor

Yeah, you read that right. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Michael worked hard and established his name in the field of entertainment. In the year 1991, he was nominated for an Oscar for his amazing performance in the Coen brothers’ period thriller Barton Fink.

At that point in time, Lerner bagged an Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role as film producer Jack Lipnick in Ethan and Joel Cohen’s Barton Fink.

Soon after, Lerner bagged the role of Mel Horowitz in the television adaptation of Clueless. He also signed up to take on the role of Sidney Greene, an investor in the show Glee.

Michael Lerner had many acting credits to his name

Throughout his career, Lerner starred in many movies such as National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982), Harlem Nights (1989), Newsies (1992), Blank Check (1994), The Beautician and the Beast (1997), Godzilla (1998), The Mod Squad (1999), Elf (2003), Poster Boy (2004) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), amongst many others.

Michael’s TV credits include The Good Guys (1969), The Brady Bunch (1969), The Bob Newhart Show (1973), The Odd Couple (1974), M*A*S*H (1974), Rhoda (1975), Starsky & Hutch (1975), Wonder Woman (1978), Kojak (1978), Hill Street Blues (1983), The A-Team (1985), Courthouse (1995), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2003), Kingdom Hospital (2004), Saving Grace (2009), The Good Wife (2012) and Suburgatory (2012).

Tributes pour in for Michael Lerner

As soon as the sad news of Michael Lerner’s demise broke out on social media, many famous friends of the Hollywood actor flooded various social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter with tributary messages.

Doug Ellin penned, “😢Amazing actor and person. Feel very fortunate that I got to work with him. My condolences to your family.” Marc Maron went on to say, “RIP Michael Lerner. Worked with him on my show. He was a character. Great actor.” Dean Devlin tweeted, “We lost a fantastic actor and a lovely man today. Had the honor of working with him on Godzilla. Class act. RIP Michael.”

Mike Barnes paid a heartfelt tribute to Michael on Twitter by writing, “#RIP Michael Lerner. How amazing was he in Barton Fink! “I came in and f—ing blew them away,” he said. “I auditioned in character, talking a mile a minute. Joel and Ethan Coen were on the ground, laughing and crying in hysterics.”

One social media user chimed in, “RIP to one of the all time great character actors, Michael Lerner. First saw him in Blank Check as a kid and I forever had him in my head as “the guy from Blank Check” but he popped up in so much great stuff, including his amazing part in Barton Fink.”

A user wrote, “Yet another legendary actor, has passed away. Thank you, Michael Lerner, for everything you gave us. Whether it was A Serious Man, Godzilla, or Barton Fink. Once again, thank you.

Meenal Mehta
Hi, I am Meenal. I'm a travel enthusiast, a movie buff and a cricket fan all wrapped in one. I love to capture moments through my words. Writing is my happy space, it has been a great way of putting all my thoughts out and feel liberated.


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