Alan Arkin, Beloved Oscar-Winning Actor, Dead At 89

Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin has passed away at the age of 89. His sons Adam, Matthew, and Anthony, jointly offered a statement on the family's behalf to People: "Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed." He is survived by his three children and his wife, Suzanne Newlander.

For many modern filmgoers, Arkin will be best remembered for his Academy Award-winning performance in the 2006 indie comedy hit "Little Miss Sunshine." He played Edwin, the renegade grandfather of the eccentric Hoover family who helps inspire young Olive (Abigail Breslin) to follow her bliss and compete in a beauty pageant. Arkin's turn, equal parts harrowing and hilarious, won him critical praise, but it was far from the first time his work attracted such attention.

From his early days as a musician to his acclaimed turn on Netflix's "The Kominsky Method," Arkin's nearly seventy-year-long career was full of highlights.

Alan Arkin had a multifaceted career

While Arkin's legacy is mostly tied to his acting career, he broke out as a member of the 1950s folk group The Tarriers. Their biggest hit was a 1957 cover of the Jamaican folk song "The Banana Boat Song." Arkin's first major screen acting role came nearly a decade later.

In the 1966 comedy "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming," Arkin made his proper feature-film debut as Lieutenant Yuri Rozanov, a member of a Soviet submarine crew that gets stranded off the coast of a quaint New England island community. His pitch-perfect accent and deft comedic timing netted Arkin an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He would go on to receive his next Best Actor nomination just two years later for the adaptation of the acclaimed novel "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter."

Arkin's film career continued at a steady clip with roles in movies like "Catch-22," Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands," "Glengarry Glen Ross," and the "Slums of Beverly Hills." He also made many TV appearances throughout his career on shows like "St. Elsewhere," "Chicago Hope," and "Will & Grace."

His 2006 Oscar win for "Little Miss Sunshine" proved to be a bellwether for Arkin's late-career success. Following that film he co-starred in the spy-comedy "Get Smart," the spy-drama "Argo," and the live-action "Dumbo." One of Arkin's final roles was on the Netflix series "The Kominsky Method," for which he received Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominations.

During a 2020 interview with The Guardian, Arkin reflected on his relationship to acting, "My parents were wonderful people in many ways, but they weren't affectionate ... I felt ignored to the point where I didn't even exist — so acting was my lifeline to not feeling like I was being obliterated. For many years, the only place I felt alive was on stage."

And what a gift to us all that he shared that with the world.