Character Actor John Finnegan Dies at 85

He worked in film and TV with John Cassavetes and Peter Falk, two of his buddies from New York.

John Finnegan, a character actor who appeared in five films for John Cassavetes and a dozen episodes of Columbo starring Peter Falk, died Sunday at his home in Palm Desert, Calif., from pneumonia and complications of old age, his wife told the Los Angeles Times. He was 85.

Finnegan also played a baseball scout in Robert Redford’s The Natural (1984) and voiced Warren T. Rat, a villain in the animated An American Tail (1986).

At the Actors Studio in his native New York, Finnegan became friends with Cassavetes and Falk, who helped him when he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s.

Finnegan had roles in Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Opening Night (1977), Gloria (1980) and Big Trouble (1986). Falk, a key member of Cassavetes’ independent acting troupe, was in Under the Influence and Big Trouble as well.

Finnegan played a variety of supporting parts in Columbo episodes and telefilms  between 1972 and 2003 and had a bit part in the Falk comedy classic The In-Laws (1979).

Finnegan also appeared in such movies as Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), Last Action Hero (2003) and Mars Attacks! (1996) and the TV series Banacek, Maude, Police Woman, McMillan & Wife, McCloud, 227 and ER.

Survivors include his wife, Carolynn.