Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lou Jacobi

I think as far as Bit Actors go, Lou Jacobi (1913 - 2009) set a standard.  He was consistently good in just about everything he did, or at least in everything I saw him in.  IMDb lists 68 acting roles from 1953 until his last film, I.Q. in 1994, a rom-com with Walter Matthau, Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins.

He started out on the stage and continued to work in plays through the years.  I saw him once in the 1970's at the old Valley Forge Music Fair.  He was also in some big hit movies, The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959 and Irma la Douce in 1963, plus working with Woody Allen, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Bette Davis, Peter O'Toole, Dudley Moore and many others.

He later became a hit as a guest star on TV, and he had a recurring role in "Love, American Style."  He was seen on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," "The Texan," and "The Defenders" back in the day.  Later he played in "That Girl" and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." 

Still newer TV saw him in "Barney Miller," "Tales from the Darkside," "Cagney and Lacey," "St. Elsewhere," and "L.A. Law."  No wonder his face is recognizable.  He could easily put on a Jewish or NY accent, and his little hunch made him perfect to play the part of an old man.

His last role, as an aging physicist in I.Q. was small, but it added so much to the feel of the movie.  It is not a bad film, if you like romantic comedies, and I do.  It is worth seeing just because Walter Matthau plays Albert Einstein (after he moved to Princeton, NJ).  The story is a bit far fetched, but that's what rom-coms are all about.  I love Meg Ryan in everything she does, but seeing Matthau, Jacobi and the third aging physicist played by Gene Saks, wandering about the streets of Princeton, talking about ice cream and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle makes for a light, fun film.

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