‘Seinfeld’s ‘Grumpy Old Man’ Bill Erwin Dies at 96

by | January 4, 2011 at 2:01 PM | Celebrity Deaths, TV News

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LOS ANGELES – Character actor Bill Erwin, whose nearly seven-decade Hollywood career included his memorable role as the grumpy old man on television’s “Seinfeld,” has died. He was 96.

Erwin, also known for his role as Arthur the bellman in the 1980 fantasy film “Somewhere in Time,” died the morning of Dec. 29 at his home in suburban Los Angeles’ Studio City, his son Mike Erwin said Tuesday from his Jacksonville, Ore., home.

He died of age-related causes, his son said.

“He just ran out of gas,” Mike Erwin said. “He was happy to the end.”

Erwin’s death was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

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Erwin’s Hollywood career dates back to 1941, when he appeared in the movie “You’re in the Army Now.” His scores of credits include roles on “The Twilight Zone,” “Gunsmoke,” “Perry Mason,” “The Golden Girls,” “Growing Pains,” “Wagon Train,” “The Rifleman,” “The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” “Who’s the Boss?” and “My Name is Earl.”

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But his old man character Sid Fields on “Seinfeld,” which got him an Emmy nomination in 1993, is perhaps his most memorable role.

Erwin studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse and performed in stage productions around Los Angeles through the decades. He also dabbled as a cartoonist and his work was published in The New Yorker, Playboy and Los Angeles magazine.

Besides his son Mike, Erwin is survived by son Timothy Erwin, and daughters Lindsey Thomas Erwin and Kelly Erwin, all of Los Angeles; and his sister Mary Gene Cosper in San Angelo, Texas.

Plans for a public memorial service in Los Angeles were incomplete.

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