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Lee Wallace, the Ed Koch look-alike who coincidentally or not played mayors in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Tim Burton’s Batman, died Sunday in New York after a long illness, his family announced. He was 90.
Wallace also appeared in other notable films including Klute (1971), The Hot Rock (1972), The Happy Hooker (1975), Thieves (1977), Private Benjamin (1980) and Used People (1992).
He was a regular performer with the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts starting in the mid-1960s and appeared opposite Glenn Close in a Yale Repertory production of Uncle Vanya in 1981.
Wallace also worked in eight Broadway productions, from A Teaspoon Every Four Hours in 1969 through the Leonard Nimoy-directed The Apple Doesn’t Fall in 1996.
Born Leo Melis in Brooklyn on July 15, 1930, he was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He graduated from Seward Park High School and attended NYU, then studied with acting teacher Michael Howard for seven years after a stint in the U.S. Army.
Many thought that Wallace bore a striking resemblance to the charismatic Koch, who served as the mayor of New York City from 1978-89, and Burton cast him as the mayor of Gotham City in Batman (1989).
Four years before Koch would be elected, Wallace played a beleaguered and besieged NYC mayor in the great Joseph Sargent-directed crime film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), starring Walter Matthau.
Wallace also showed up on television in Kojak, Lou Grant, Ryan’s Hope, Kate & Allie, Law & Order and other shows.
Survivors include his wife of 45 years, One Life to Live actress Marilyn Chris, and their son, Paul.
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