Charles Grodin: star of ‘Midnight Run’ and ‘Beethoven’, dies at 86

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Charles Grodin (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Charles Grodin (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Charles Grodin, the dry and droll actor known for his work in films like The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run and the Beethoven movies, has died today (18 May). He was 86.

Grodin died of bone marrow cancer at his home in Wilton, Connecticut, his son, Nicholas, told The New York Times.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1935, Grodin made his film debut with an uncredited bit part in Disney's 1954 adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  

He had a small but crucial role as an obstetrician in the 1968 horror film Rosemary's Baby before winning fans with his comic supporting turn in 1970 war satire Catch-22.

Grodin’s first starring role came in 1972 when he played the lead in The Heartbreak Kid, directed by Elaine May and written by Neil Simon. 

In 1978, he appeared alongside Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in the Oscar-winning comedy Heaven Can Wait.

Arguably his most famous role came opposite Robert De Niro in 1988’s Midnight Run, in which Grodin played Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas, an accountant who finds himself in the sights of De Niro’s bounty hunter Jack Walsh.

Grodin was introduced to a new generation of fans in the early ’90s through his role as put-upon patriarch George Newton in Beethoven (1992) and Beethoven’s 2nd (1993).

In the 2000s, Grodin gave up acting for a period to help raise his two children Marion and Nicholas. 

He took on a handful of roles in later life, including an appearance in director Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young in 2015. His final film appearance was in 2017’s An Imperfect Murder, opposite Alec Baldwin and Sienna Miller.

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