Ian Abercrombie, the actor who will be forever remembered for playing the role of the persnickety “Mr. Pitt” in “Seinfeld,” died Thursday in Los Angeles.
His death, attributed to a sudden heart attack, was not reported until Sunday. The actor, born in England on Sept. 11, 1934, was 77.
Abercrombie was a classically trained British actor whose career in movies and television dated back to 1955, according to this bio on Wikipedia.org. Most recently, he was seen playing an 800-year-old wizard in “Wizards of Waverly Place” and a butler on “Desperate Housewives.”
But it was the role of Justin Pitt, an imperious Manhattan socialite who hired Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as his assistant and protege, for which he’ll be remembered for as long as “Seinfeld” reruns continue airing on TV.
The Mr. Pitt character appeared in only seven episodes in the 1994-95 “Seinfeld” season (plus the finale in 1998), but thanks to Abercrombie’s comic genius, he quickly established himself as one of the show’s most indelible characters.
Mr. Pitt was the wealthy fuss-budget who ate his Snicker’s bars with a knife and fork and who couldn’t be satisfied with the socks Elaine bought for him. The entire Mr. Pitt scenario was steeped in comedy. He hired Elaine because he felt she resembled Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Among other adventures, he became so distracted by an abstract print of Kramer’s in one episode that he inadvertently showed up clad as Adolf Hitler to a shareholders meeting to discuss the merger of two bottled-water companies — one of the most memorable scenes in the history of the series.
Abercrombie was one of the many veteran actors whose contributions to the success of “Seinfeld” are immeasurable — including the late Len Lesser (Uncle Leo), the late Barney Martin (Jerry’s dad Morty), Liz Sheridan (Jerry’s mom), Estelle Harris (George’s mother), Jerry Stiller (George’s father), and many others.
Ian Abercrombie is survived by his wife, Gladys, and mourned by millions of “Seinfeld” fans who can’t believe that their beloved Mr. Pitt is gone.