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Oscar-Nominated Disney Character Actor Dead at 81

michael lerner
Credit: FOX News

An Oscar-nominated and prolific character actor with several Disney roles to his credit during his 60-year career has died at the age of 81.

Michael Lerner, 'Barton Fink' and 'Elf' actor, dead at 81 - ABC7 Chicago

Credit: ABC Chicago/Associated Press

Michael Lerner, an American film and voice actor who played multiple roles in various film and television projects throughout a career that spanned six decades, has died, according to Entertainment Weekly. He was 81 years old.

During the course of his lengthy career, Lerner appeared in a wide range of films and television series. From The Brady Bunch and Harlem Nights to Entourage and Elf, Lerner played various characters, depending on what his roles called for. Lerner played the role of Jack Ruby in Ruby and Oswald (1978), Arnold Rothstein in Eight Men Out (1988), and the publisher Mr. Greenway in Elf (2003), starring Will Ferrell.

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Michael Lerner Dead: 'Barton Fink,' 'Elf' Actor Was 81 - Variety

Credit: Variety

He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1991 film Barton Fink. 

For The Walt Disney Company, Lerner appeared in numerous films. He played the part of Weasel in Newsies (1992), the role of Edward Biderman in Disney’s Blank Check (1994), and Perry in A Pyromaniac’s Love Story (1995). In 1999, Lerner played the role of Mr. Channing in Disney’s My Favorite Martian, starring Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Daniels, and voiced the role of the Producer in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure (2003).

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michael lerner and producer from 101 dalmatians II patch's london adventure

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Michael Lerner was born in Brooklyn on June 22, 1941. He studied acting at Brooklyn College before earning his Master’s degree at the University of California at Berkeley. He also attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he studied theater on a Fullbright Scholarship.

Lerner’s nephew, Sam Lerner, made an announcement about his uncle’s death via Instagram.

“We lost a legend last night,” Sam Lerner wrote. “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.”

Michael Lerner, 'Barton Fink' actor, dead at 81 | Fox News

Credit: FOX News

Lerner continued, saying, “Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was — 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.”

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!