EXCLUSIVE: 'Barney Miller' Co-Star Calls Steve Landesberg 'a Comic's Comic'

Max Gail - Steve Landesberg - Barney Miller - 1980
ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Max Gail tells THR that 'comedians were drawn' to the actor, who died Friday.

Steve Landesberg is best known for his role on Barney Milller, but his co-star recalled that the actor/comedian truly excelled at his comic craft.

Max Gail, who played Det. Stan 'Wojo' Wojciehowicz on the series, calls Landesberg "a comic's comic."

"People were drawn to him, but comedians were really drawn to him," Gail tells The Hollywood Reporter. "They recognized him as the real deal."
"If there's one image I have of Steve, it was a comedian doing a guest spot on the show who was trying to ask him about comedy while we're in the make-up room. And Steve's just going, don't analyze it. If it's funny, it's funny."
Landesberg, who played Arthur Dietrich on Barney Miller and who most recently starred in the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, died on Friday after a battle with cancer, his rep confirmed to THR.
While Landesberg appeared to make the laughter -- both on the show and on stage -- seem effortless, there was serious work involved.
"There was a cleanness and a simplicity that he would get to," says Gail. "But that doesn't mean there wasn't a whole lot of thought that went into it."
After the series ended in 1982, the two kept in touch "like stones skipping through life." Gail says he'll recall his former co-star's profound nature.
"He took everything with calmness," says Gail. "He was poised right there between how funny the world was and how profound it was. He would tip towards the funny side, but the profoundness never alluded him."
Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller gave a statement to THR: “Steve Landesberg was a comedy god.  He turned a pediatrician cameo in Forgetting Sarah Marshall into one of the stand out memorable scenes.  He was amazing at improv and game to try anything, not to mention a real gentleman.  I only worked with him briefly but I always hoped we'd get to work together again.  He will be greatly missed in the comedy community.”
Michael McKean (who played Lenny on Laverne & Shirley and starred in This Is Spinal Tap) wrote on Twitter that Landesberg, with whom he voiced a character on Adult Swim cartoon Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, was " a friendly and funny good guy."