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Gary Friedkin, who appeared in the films Young Doctors in Love and Mother’s Day for director Garry Marshall, died Friday of complications from COVID-19 at a hospice facility in Youngstown, Ohio, his family announced. He was 70.
Friedkin also portrayed Clarence, a cook at Arnold’s restaurant, on three 1982 episodes of the Marshall-created Happy Days. In a running gag, the character was talked about but never seen until he showed up during the ABC comedy’s 10th season.
Friedkin also got to fight with Harrison Ford as a member of a biker gang in Blade Runner (1982) and played an Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983).
One of four kids, Gary Jay Friedkin was born in Youngstown on Nov. 23, 1952. He played piano and percussion instruments in bands while attending high school at The Rayen School, then graduated from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University in 1970.
Friedkin portrayed Dr. Milton Chamberlain in the soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love (1982) as part of a cast that included Michael McKean, Sean Young, Ted McGinley, Harry Dean Stanton and Dabney Coleman, then appeared in Mother’s Day (2016), Marshall’s final movie.
Friedkin, 4-foot tall, was an active member of Little People of America and attended many conventions, where he connected with people across the U.S. and introduced others to the organization, his family noted.
“While Gary may have been short of stature, he was a giant amongst his family and friends,” they said.
Survivors include his brother, Alan; sister-in-law Carol; nephews Nathan and Aaron; and niece Sara.
A scholarship has been established in his name at Youngstown State. Attention will be given to those with a disability or a concentration in the performing arts. Donations can be made to the Gary Friedkin Scholarship; YSU Foundation; 655 Wick Ave.; Youngstown, OH 44502.
A celebration of his life will be held this spring.
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