Character Actor Jay Gerber Dies at 86

Jay Gerber (second from right) with the cast of the 1975-76 ABC series 'On the Rocks.'

He played Stretch Cunningham’s brother on 'All in the Family.' His brother, Roy, was the inspiration for Oscar Madison.

Jay Gerber, a character actor whose many appearances onscreen included a memorable episode of All in the Family, has died. He was 86.

Gerber, who also guest-starred on such shows as Eight Is Enough, Barney Miller and L.A. Law, died Oct. 2 at his home in Los Angeles, his nephew, film and TV producer Bill Gerber (Gran Torino), told The Hollywood Reporter.

Gerber’s brother was the late Roy Gerber, an agent and talent manager who served as the inspiration for the character of Oscar Madison in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. (After he and his wife split up, Roy moved into the home of Neil’s older brother, comedy writer Danny Simon, who also was newly separated.)

On “Stretch Cunningham, Goodbye,” a 1977 episode of CBS' All in the Family, Archie (Carroll O’Connor) is shocked to learn that his buddy at work, Irishman Stretch Cunningham (James Cromwell), has died — and that he was Jewish. (“A Jewish name ain’t supposed to have no ‘ham’ in it,” he says.) Jay Gerber portrays Cunningham’s brother and convinces Archie to deliver the eulogy.

A native of the Bronx and a veteran of the Korean War who moved to Los Angeles in 1975, Gerber made his movie debut in Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon, playing an insurance salesman across the street from the bank being held up.

He later could be seen on What’s Happening!!, The Rockford Files, On the RocksEight Is Enough, One Day at a Time, Archie Bunker’s Place, M*A*S*H, Night Court, Doogie Howser, M.D., Knots Landing, Dallas and Gilmore Girls and in the movies Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and Three Wishes (1995).

Survivors also include his wife Lesley, son Andrew, daughter-in-law Natalie and grandson Miles. The family requests that donations be made to The Actors Fund.

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