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Allen Garfield, the New Jersey character actor who specialized in playing nervous types while appearing in such films as The Conversation, The Candidate, The Stunt Man and Nashville, has died of coronavirus complications. He was 80.
Garfield died Tuesday at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills.
He suffered a stroke as he was set to appear in Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate (1999), then suffered another one in 2004 that led him to reside at the MPTF facility.
“We cared for and cared about Allen for almost 17 years, and he made many friends here who will miss him every day,” MPTF president & CEO Bob Beitcher said in a statement.
On Tuesday, actress Ronee Blakley, who played Garfield’s wife in Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975), posted news of his death on Facebook.
Born Allen Goorwitz on Nov. 22, 1939, in Newark, he went by his real name in several films, including The Brink’s Job (1978) and One From the Heart (1981), midway through his career.
Garfield boxed as an amateur, worked as a sportswriter and studied with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio in New York. He appeared often onstage before making his film debut in Orgy Girls ’69, followed by other big-screen appearances in 1971 in Woody Allen’s Bananas and The Organization, starring Sidney Poitier.
He worked for Francis Ford Coppola in The Conversation (1974), One From the Heart (1981) and The Cotton Club (1984) and for Wim Wenders in A State of Things (1982) and Until the End of the World (1991).
He portrayed Louis B. Mayer in Gable and Lombard (1976) and police chief Harold Lutz in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), and his résumé also included roles in Teachers (1984), Desert Bloom (1986), Dick Tracy (1990), Destiny Turns on the Radio (1995) and The Majestic (2001).
“The reason I did [the 1988 movie] Chief Zabu is that Allen Garfield is from the Actors Studio, I’m from the Actors Studio, and we worked together there on stuff,” actress Marianna Hill said in a 2016 interview with Shaun Chang for the Hill Place blog. “Allen Garfield happens to be a great actor. He’s a really underrated actor. Allen was the hardest-working actor, but nobody realizes that about him because he seems to be a natural.”
Survivors include his sister, Lois.
April 9 The obituary was updated to note that Garfield died of coronavirus complications at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital.
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