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Caddyshack Actors You Might Not Know Passed Away

1980's "Caddyshack" represents many things to different people. The snobs-vs.-slobs comedy marked the film directorial debut of Harold Ramis (who also co-wrote the film with Brian Doyle-Murray and Douglas Kenney) and the first substantial movie role for comedian Rodney Dangerfield. "Caddyshack" was also the final script co-written by the brilliant but troubled Kenney (via ESPN), who also collaborated with Ramis on "Animal House." And as Chris Nashawaty's book "Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story" noted (via Sports Illustrated), it helped to cool a long-standing feud between "Saturday Night Live" alumni Chevy Chase and Bill Murray.

"Caddyshack" is a cult favorite, beloved by comedy and sports fans alike, and an endlessly quotable touchstone for sports professionals like PGA Tour champion Jerry Kelly, who told Sports Illustrated, "There is not a day that goes by in which I don't use a line from 'Caddyshack.'" And as Slate notes, even Barack Obama quoted the film in a tribute to Ramis after his death in 2014, when he cited Bill Murray's speech about the Dalai Lama by wishing Ramis "total consciousness."

And while its best scenes will last forever as movie moments, the cast is sadly mortal. Released to theaters in the summer of 1980, "Caddyshack" is now over four decades old, and while many of the cast of "Caddyshack" remain active, others have died. Find out which cast members have reached the 18th hole in this list of the "Caddyshack" actors you might know passed away.

Rodney Dangerfield (Al Czervik)

Though a popular stand-up comic on the nightclub and TV circuits, Rodney Dangerfield was still an acting novice when he was cast as proudly loud real estate developer Al Czervik in "Caddyshack." At the time of its release, Dangerfield had only two prior screen credits — as an uncredited onlooker in Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" and a supporting role in the experimental comedy "The Projectionist." According to "Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story," he was wracked with insecurity. Scott Colomby, who played caddy Tony D'Annunzio, recalled Dangerfield being unnerved because the crew wasn't laughing at his performance. "I'm bombing out there!'" Colomby recalled the comedian saying, prompting his co-star to reassure Dangerfield that the crew couldn't laugh because they'd ruin the take.

Dangerfield eventually got the hang of movie acting and became a leading man in his own right with hits like "Easy Money" and "Back to School." The exposure afforded by "Caddyshack" was a boon to his standup career as well: his 1980 comedy album "No Respect" won a Grammy Award and its follow-up, "Rappin' Rodney," generated a Billboard Hot 100 record with its title song. His movie career cooled in the 1990s due to a string of underperforming films like "Meet Wally Sparks," though he earned critical praise for a hair-raising turn as an abusive father in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers." A string of health problems led to heart valve replacements in 2003 and 2004. The 82-year-old Dangerfield died of complications from the latter procedure on October 5, 2004 (per The New York Times).

Ted Knight (Judge Smails)

Ted Knight brought the signature pomposity and high-strung anxiety of his best-known role -– TV anchor Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which earned him two Emmy Awards -– to his turn as the Fresca-loving, impossibly snobbish Judge Elihu Smails in "Caddyshack." Though Knight was best known for his TV work, the actor appeared in numerous features during his long career, including Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," but often in minor or even uncredited roles.

Prior to stardom on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Knight employed his impeccable delivery and baritone voice on radio and commercial voice-overs while pursuing on-camera guest roles on TV series. Guest shots on series like "The Twilight Zone" and "Get Smart," as well as voice acting work for numerous series (most notably the stentorian narration for "Super Friends") preceded his breakout role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Knight enjoyed a second stint on a successful TV series with the sitcom "Too Close for Comfort," which ran on ABC from 1980 to 1983 and in first-run syndication from 1984 to 1987. A revamp in 1986 changed the title to "The Ted Knight Show," but the new iteration was cut short when the 62-year-old Knight died on August 26, 1986 after surgery for urinary tract cancer (via The Washington Post).

Dan Resin (Dr. Beeper)

Audiences were most likely familiar with Dan Resin's face, if not his name, when he turned up to play the impossibly square and smug Dr. Beeper in "Caddyshack." Resin was a fixture of television commercials in the 1970s and '80s, turning up in spots for the New York Lottery and Bird's Eye frozen vegetables. However, he was perhaps best known as the Ty-D-Bowl Man, a miniaturized gentleman in a captain's uniform who piloted a tiny motorboat across sparkling blue toilet bowl water in commercials for the bathroom cleaner.

Though Dr. Beeper is perhaps the movie role for which he's best remembered, Resin worked steadily in other features and on television from the '70s through the late '90s. He appeared in two parodies of Richard M. Nixon's presidency –- "Hail!" and "Richard," both from 1972 -– and enjoyed supporting and minor roles in Larry Cohen's "God Told Me To," "The Man with One Red Shoe," and Brian De Palma's "Wise Guys." On the small screen, Resin turned up on everything from the soap opera "The Edge of Night" to "Captain Kangaroo" and "New York Undercover." He died of complications from Parkinson's disease at the age of 79 on July 31, 2010 (per The Boston Globe).

Henry Wilcoxon (The Bishop)

One of the film's more amusing portraits in hypocrisy is Bishop Fred Pickering, a country club member and seemingly upstanding figure who also enjoys an off-color joke and likes his liquor a bit too much ("You never ask a navy man if he'll have another drink"). And as we discover over the course of the film, the Bishop also hungers for a perfect game of golf, which he pursues in a rainswept round caddied by Carl Spackler. He misses the final hole and is promptly struck by lighting, but he later turns up, haggard and unshaven, to renounce God.

The Bishop was one of the final screen roles for actor Henry Wilcoxon, who turned to acting in the early 1930s after a stint as an amateur boxer (via Turner Classic Movies). He began his career on stage before moving into features in 1931, and a meeting with director Cecil B. DeMille led to some of his best known movie roles, including Marc Anthony in 1934's "Cleopatra" and the captain of the pharaoh's guards in "The Ten Commandments" (1952). Wilcoxon also appeared in such classic Hollywood titles as "Mrs. Miniver" and DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" before moving into television in the 1960s and '70s. He made his final film appearance in the low-budget 1983 horror film "Sweet Sixteen" before his death on March 6, 1984 at the age of 78 (per The New York Times).

Albert Salmi (Mr. Noonan)

Veteran tough guy Albert Salmi appears briefly in "Caddyshack" as Danny's cash-conscious working-class dad, who is forever nagging his son to save his tips and fund his ambitions for law school. The role of Mr. Noonan came at the tail end of Salmi's long career as an actor, which began on Broadway in the mid-1950s and soon expanded to features and television in the 1960s. 

A graduate of the Actors Studio, Salmi reportedly considered his screen work secondary to stage roles (via The Spokane Chronicle), but film and TV kept him exceptionally busy for over two decades. His small screen roles included episodes of the original "Twilight Zone," "The Fugitive," "Lost in Space," and "Hawaii Five-O." Film work included appearances in "Escape from the Planet of the Apes," "Brubaker," and "Dragonslayer."

Salmi relocated with his family to Spokane, Washington, in the 1980s as his career prospects began to dwindle. A reportedly troubled marriage to his second wife, Roberta, ended tragically there on April 23, 1990 when the 62-year-old Salmi and his wife were found dead of an apparent murder-suicide in their home (via The Spokane Spokesman-Review).

Elaine Aiken (Mrs. Noonan)

Struggling to help oversee Danny's sprawling litter of siblings (which include director Harold Ramis' daughter, Violet, as one of its youngest members) is their unnamed and clearly frazzled mother. The role was one of the relatively few screen appearances of actress Elaine Aiken, who found greater fame as a well-respected acting teacher in New York.

Born in Cordoba, Spain, she studied acting under famed instructor Lee Strasberg and joined the Actors Studio, where she became a member of its auditions panel. Aiken appeared in a handful of TV episodes and co-starred with Anthony Perkins and Jack Palance in the 1957 Western feature "The Lonely Man," but focused much of her energy into teaching. She taught acting at the Strasberg Theater Institute in the late 1970s and co-founded her own school, Actors Conservatory, in 1987. Among the many actors who studied under Aiken were Harvey Keitel and Alec Baldwin.

"Caddyshack" marked Aiken's final film role, which she followed with a trio of episodes on the daytime soap opera "Search for Tomorrow" in 1983. The 71-year-old actress and teacher died of cancer on July 12, 1998 at her home on New York's Upper East Side (via AP News).

Lois Kibbee (Mrs. Smails)

The role of Judge Smails' wife in "Caddyshack" is to underscore the movie's portrait of wealth and privilege. Mrs. Smails has two speeds: aghast at improprieties (as when Al Czervik cuts in during the Fourth of July dance), and self-satisfied during "proper" events such as the christening of the sloop Flying Wasp (before Al's boat destroys it). She does get one memorable comic bit: upon discovering Danny and Lacey in her bed, she's immediately startled, but then visibly turned on. A mystery, that Mrs. Smails.

Lois Kibbee, who played Mrs. Smails, was best known for a long-running stint as flinty matriarch Geraldine Whitney Saxon on the daytime soap opera "The Edge of Night." Kibbee earned four Daytime Emmy nominations for her run on the series, which lasted from 1970 to 1971 and then from 1973 to the series' conclusion in 1984. During this period, she also appeared on another soap, "Somerset," and contributed scripts to "Edge of Night," for which she earned a fifth Daytime Emmy nomination. Kibbee also wrote two books, including a ghost-written biography of pioneering transgender figure Christine Jorgensen (via El Paso Times).

Kibbee closed out her acting career on the soaps "Search for Tomorrow" and "One Live to Life" in 1985 and from 1986 to 1989, respectively. She died from a brain tumor at the age of 93 on October 18, 1993 (per The New York Times).

Jackie Davis (Porterhouse)

Smoke Porterhouse was the country club's dutiful attendant, responsible for all manner of minor tasks, and though he only appeared in a handful of scenes in "Caddyshack," he was a funny and memorable presence in all of them. Porterhouse makes the wager with caddy manager Lou Loomis (Brian Doyle-Murray) over whether Judge Smails' dimwitted grandson, Spaulding, would consume the contents of his nostril after picking it. Porterhouse later repays Judge Smails' racist joke by subjecting his golf shoes to an industrial-style grinder.

Jackie Davis, who played Porterhouse in "Caddyshack," appeared in several other features between the 1970s and '90s -– most notably Martin Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear" in 1991 -– but he was also a major figure in the world of jazz (per Jazz Music Archives). The Florida native was among the first musicians to play a Hammond organ on jazz recordings, both as a sideman for artists like Louis Jordan and as a bandleader for Capitol Records. Davis issued numerous albums of light jazz mixed with pop standards in the 1950s and early '60s before settling into steady work as a club performer.

He returned to recording in 1980 -– the same year as the release of "Caddyshack" -– and performed regularly in North Carolina and Florida into the early '90s. A series of health and financial setbacks, including the loss of his home in Hurricane Andrew in 1992, preceded his death on November 2,1999 at the age of 78 (per Allmusic).

Thomas A. Carlin (Sandy McFiddish)

American stage actor Thomas A. Carlin played the very Scottish Sandy McFiddish, the groundskeeper at Bushwood Country Club who charges Bill Murray's Carl Spackler with destroying the gophers plaguing its golf course. The addled Carl takes this as an order for mass murder: "Check me if I'm wrong, Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they're gonna lock me up and throw away the key." McFiddish -– who, despite a rumor, was not the inspiration for Groundskeeper Willie of "The Simpsons" (via The Scotsman) –- is a minor role in the film, but Carlin invests him with bristling comic energy

The husband of Emmy-nominated actress Frances Sternhagen ("Misery," "Sex and the City"), Carlin divided his early career in the 1950s between Broadway productions like "A Thousand Clowns" and live television. In later years, he taught acting in New York while also appearing in features like John Sayles' "Matewan" and Adrian Lyne's "Jacob's Ladder," and in guest roles on series like "Law & Order" and "The Equalizer." He died of heart failure at the age of 62 in New Rochelle, New York on May 6, 1991 (per The New York Times).

Douglas Kenney (Al Czervik's dinner guest)

"Caddyshack" co-writer and co-producer Douglas Kenney appears very briefly in the film as a bespectacled guest at the Fourth of July dinner that Al Czervik upends with a flurry of one-liners (re: Spaulding Smails: "Now I know why tigers eat their young"). In the scene, Kenney shares a table with Brian McConnachie, an actor and TV scribe who also wrote for the National Lampoon, the groundbreaking humor magazine that Kenney co-founded in 1969 (via Esquire). The Lampoon served as a launching pad for Kenney's tenure in Hollywood, which began in 1977 with "Animal House," a wildly successful comedy penned by fellow Lampoon writers Chris Miller and Harold Ramis, who worked on the National Lampoon Radio Hour and National Lampoon Show with Bill Murray.

A brilliant writer, Kenney struggled with substance abuse, which took a toll on his physical and mental health. A profile of Kenney in Harvard Magazine noted that he suffered from mood swings and deep depressions, as well as a self-destructive tendency that extended to his work. He showed up inebriated at a press conference for "Caddyshack" in 1980 and spoke disparagingly about his own film. As Miller told Harvard Magazine, "His brain has to be like some mirror that got broken into a thousand glittering shards: each one is very bright, but they're not connected anymore." That same year, Chevy Chase -– who was undergoing his own substance abuse issues (via The New York Times) -– invited Kenney to accompany him to Hawaii. During the trip, Chase left briefly for Los Angeles, and while preparing to return, was informed that Kenney had gone missing. His body was found at the bottom of a cliff on the island of Kauai; the 33-year-old's death was attributed as an accident.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Kenneth and Rebecca Burritt (Mr. and Mrs. Havercamp)

In one of the most amusing scenes in "Caddyshack," Scott Colomby's Tony D'Annuzio is tasked with caddying for the Havercamps, an elderly couple whose enthusiasm for the game will not be blunted by their physical (and possibly mental) infirmities. Though the Havercamps might be unclear about the location of their golf balls -– or the green, for that matter -– they're overjoyed to be playing the game, and quite pleased with their own performance. "I'm hot today!" cries Mr. Havercamp as he fires a ball directly over Tony's head.

There are almost no biographical details about Kenneth and Rebecca Burditt, the real-life married couple who played the Havercamps in "Caddyshack." The film marks their only acting appearances, and according to Find a Grave, Kenneth died shortly after the film's release, on January 26, 1984, while Rebecca died nearly a decade later on February 24, 1996. However, their blithe performances helped to make "Havercamp" synonymous with atrocious golf play: in a 2016 interview with The Golf Channel, Australian golf pro Jason Day said that after a rough day at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, "I felt like Mr. Havercamp out of 'Caddyshack,' trying to find his golf ball and not knowing where the golf hole goes."

Mel Pape (Butler)

Upon discovering Danny and Lacey in his bedroom, Judge Smails goes on a rampage, pursuing the caddy through his mansion. The chase causes the judge to collide with his butler, who drops a tray with tea service over a stair railing. The entire mess lands near the visiting Havercamps, who seem unfazed by the clamor. "That must be the tea," notes Rebecca Burritt's Mrs. Havercamp with nearly perfect comic delivery.

Handling –- or mishandling, as it were –- the tea tray in "Caddyshack" was Texas native Mel Pape, a bit player in several features and television productions who was better known as the personal assistant to and costumer for comedy legend Jackie Gleason. Pape enjoyed a number of minor roles in Gleason's projects, including the first and third "Smokey and the Bandit" movies and "Nothing in Common." Pape also appears to have worked in several film and TV projects based in Florida, where Gleason lived, including episodes of "Flipper."

Pape occasionally ventured outside of Gleason's orbit for acting roles, most notably in the Dom DeLuise-directed comedy "Hot Stuff" and the slasher pic "Eyes of a Stranger." Pape outlived Gleason, who died in 1987, by nearly a decade; he died in Austin, Texas on April 24, 1995 at the age of 83.

Tsung-I Dow (Mr. Wang)

Al Czervik's dapper companion Mr. Wang may not have been the most nuanced portrayal of an Asian character –- he's first seen taking endless rounds of photographs, prompting Al to point out that he's snapping pics of the club's parking lot -– but he eventually served as the impetus for one of the funniest and most pointed jokes that also underscores the nastier side of the "snobs" in "Caddyshack." As they walk into the club's gift shop, Al tells Wang, "I think this place is restricted, Wang, so don't tell 'em you're Jewish."

The actor playing Wang is credited as "Dr. Dow," but his real name was Tsung-I Dow, and he was a Florida-based history professor and author. According to his obituary on Legacy.com, Dow began his career in politics as part of China's Nationalist Party before relocating to the United States via a Merchant Marine ship in 1946. There, he shifted his focus to education, teaching history at Florida State University. He also wrote numerous books and papers on Asian history and philosophy in both English and Chinese. Dow died at the age of 101 at his daughter's home in Rye, New York, on July 6, 2017.