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Glee Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

When "Glee" premiered on Fox in 2009, few could have predicted the musical dramedy's effect on pop culture. Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, "Glee" was a bizarre concept from the get-go — specifically, a cast of adult actors playing high school students who burst into song several times a day and are rarely seen in academic classes. Yet, as with most projects involving Murphy, the underdog show focused on the much-maligned Glee Club at an Ohio high school and captured the hearts of many. Audiences tuned in week after week, eager to see what a capella group New Directions was up to, and downloading the episode's best songs the next day — especially if the episode featured a mash-up.

"Glee" brought its curtain down in 2015, after six seasons, and though its viewership dropped significantly over its run, "Gleeks" still shed tears as they said farewell to their favorite series. In a twist of bitter irony, "Glee," with its young cast and sunny outlook, has suffered numerous tragedies both during and after its six-year run. Here are the "Glee" stars you might not know passed away.

Cory Monteith

On "Glee," Cory Monteith played Finn Hudson, an all-American jock with a sensitive side and soothing voice. Finn's on-again, off-again relationship with Lea Michele's Rachel Berry was a centerpiece of the show's dramatic moments, earning the affectionate portmanteau "Finchel" (and the two had an off-screen relationship as well). However, Monteith came to the "Glee" cast with some weighty personal struggles. In a 2011 interview with Parade, the Canadian actor opened up about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, which began when he was just 13 years old. By the time he was 19, Monteith's friends and family organized an intervention, after which Monteith entered rehab for the first time.

Unfortunately, Monteith's demons continued to haunt him throughout his 20s. In March 2013, at the age of 30, Monteith entered rehab, completing the program at the end of April. Then, on July 14, news broke that Monteith was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room. Autopsy results revealed that the actor died of an accidental overdose of heroin and alcohol; codeine and morphine were also found in his blood. The third episode of the fifth season of "Glee," titled "The Quarterback," is dedicated to Monteith.

Mark Salling

"Glee," like any show set in high school, had its "bad boy," and in that role, Mark Salling played Noah "Puck" Puckerman for the entirety of the series, though he is listed as a recurring character for its final two seasons. Much like Shakespeare's character of the same name, Puck was a mischief-maker, albeit a lovable one. As the series' resident horn dog, Puck was often "romancing" a variety of women. Like his co-star Cory Monteith, Salling also found himself in unflattering headlines.

In 2013, Salling's ex-girlfriend, Roxanne Gorzela, sued the Texas native, alleging he forced her to have unprotected sex. Though Salling denied the accusations, he settled with Gorzela out of court, paying her $2.7 million. A few months after "Glee" ended, Salling was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. When authorities searched his California home, they discovered more than 50,000 images of child pornography on his computer. Salling pled guilty in December 2017, with sentencing set for March 2018. Likely facing several years in prison, Salling died by suicide in January 2018. He was 35 years old.

Robin Trocki

Jane Lynch is one of only five "Glee" actors to star in a main role for all six seasons of the show. As Sue Sylvester, head coach of William McKinley High School's cheerleading squad, Lynch played the show's villain. Typically clad in a tracksuit, Sylvester stalks the halls of McKinley, instilling fear in both students and staff. Yet despite her edges, Sue also had a soft spot for Becky Jackson, a McKinley student with Down's syndrome, who Sue takes under her wing. Though her affection for Becky seems out of character, viewers eventually learn that Sue has an older sister, Jean, with Down's syndrome.

Robin Trocki, who came to "Glee" with no acting experience, played Jean Sylvester in five episodes throughout Seasons 1 and 2. Trocki died in 2019 from Alzheimer's disease at the age of 63. While not a star of the series, Trocki's involvement with "Glee" helped raise awareness for Down's syndrome.

Naya Rivera

For the first season of "Glee," Naya Rivera played the recurring character Santana Lopez, one of Sue's top cheerleaders, before being promoted to the show's main cast in Season 2. Just as Mark Salling's character filled the role of "bad boy," Rivera's character served as the "mean girl," though that persona softened over time. In addition to providing powerful vocals in New Directions, Santana also added to the show's LGBTQ+ sensibilities. Early in the series, Santana is revealed to be bisexual, and in Season 6 she marries fellow glee club alum Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris).

In July 2020, Rivera took her 4-year-old son on a pontoon boat in California's Lake Piru. When Rivera failed to return the rental boat at the appointed time, a team was sent to locate the boat and its passengers. When the boat was found, only Rivera's son was onboard. The child told authorities that after a swim, his mother helped him back onto the boat before she slipped beneath the water's surface and disappeared. After an exhaustive and multi-day search, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office announced the discovery of a body believed to be Rivera's; dental records would later confirm the body's identity. An autopsy concluded that Rivera died as a result of accidental drowning. She was 33 years old.

Jean Sincere

Billed as "Ancient Librarian," Jean Sincere appeared in three episodes of "Glee" during its first and second seasons. Her role largely consisted of either shushing or glaring at the glee club members as they broke into exuberant songs in her library. However, in Season 1's "Bad Reputation," the librarian responds to a performance of "U Can't Touch This" by suggesting that the club members recreate the song for the Sunday service at her church.

The role of the Ancient Librarian was typical of Sincere's television career, which began at the dawn of the medium in the late 1940s and concluded in 2012 with a guest appearance on "iCarly." A trained stage actress, Sincere made her debut on Broadway in the 1941 production of "Arsenic and Old Lace," and appeared in other shows before touring Europe as part of the USO.

After nearly three decades away from television, Sincere returned to the small screen in a 1985 episode of "Cagney and Lacey" and moved into steady work as a guest player in series like "Newhart," "Murphy Brown," and "Everybody Loves Raymond." She also made occasional forays into feature film work, of which her voice-acting role as the elderly Mrs. Hogenson, whom Bob Parr helps with an insurance claim in "The Incredibles," was the most memorable. Sincere remained active on television and local theater into her ninth decade; she died of natural causes at the age of 93 on April 3, 2013.

Meat Loaf

Though some critics were not impressed by "The Rocky Horror Glee Show," the Season 2 tribute to Richard O'Brien's enduring cult musical, fans of the 1975 film version were undoubtedly happy to see two of its stars appear in minor roles. Barry Bostwick, who played Brad in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and singer and actor Meat Loaf, who played Eddie in the film and original Broadway production, feature as managers of a local news station who plot with Sue Sylvester to produce an expose on the school play.

Born Marvin Lee Aday, Meat Loaf — who gave different reasons for his stage name throughout his career – enjoyed chart success in three different decades as well as a second career as an actor. His success on the pop and rock charts was largely anchored around the "Bat Out of Hell" trilogy of albums, which featured such enduring and epic-scaled radio hits as "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," and the Grammy-winning "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That").

As an actor, Meat Loaf's best-known role outside of "Rocky Horror" was as Robert Paulson, the sympathetic ex-weightlifter in David Fincher's "Fight Club," though he also appeared in "Wayne's World" and "The Salton Sea" as well as on "Masters of Horror" and "Elementary." After experiencing several health issues in the 2000s, Meat Loaf died at the age of 74 in Nashville, Tennessee on January 20, 2022.

Mike Hagerty

Presiding in part over the 2010 Western Ohio Sectionals Championship in Season 2's "Special Education" was Pete Sosnowski, associate director of the state's Department of Motor Vehicles and head judge of the competition. Sosnowski, who announced that New Directions and the Warblers both tied for first place, was played by veteran actor Mike Hagerty.

A Chicago native and member of its famed improv troupe, The Second City, Hagerty began appearing in minor and supporting roles on TV and in movies in the early '80s. A go-to for overworked and easily aggravated blue-collar types, Hagerty — who was also billed as Michael Hagerty or Michael J. Hagerty — played cops, truck drivers, salesmen, and furniture movers on projects ranging from "Nothing in Common" and "Dick Tracy" to "Married... with Children" and "Cheers." By the mid-'90s, Hagerty had moved up to supporting roles, which included his best-known small screen characters: grumpy building super Mr. Treeger on five episodes of "Friends" and the owner of a vintage clothing store who butted heads with Kramer in "Seinfeld."

Hagerty remained active well into the new millennium with recurring roles in "Lucky Louie" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," and co-starred in the HBO comedy "Somebody Somewhere." After completing the latter show's first season, Hagerty experienced a seizure due to an adverse reaction to antibiotics and lapsed into a coma; the 67-year-old died at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on May 5, 2022.

Olivia Newton-John

Singer and actress Olivia Newton-John parodied her own squeaky-clean image in two appearances in "Glee," for which she played a diva-ish version of herself. In Season 1's "Bad Reputation," she helped repair the damage done to Sue Sylvester's status and dignity when a bootleg video of her performing Newton-John's "Physical" is leaked to the internet. Newton-John taps Sue to appear in a near-exact duplicate of the original campy music video. She later returned that same season for "Journey to Regionals," which offered her a chance to play for laughs as a self-centered judge for the New Directions' performance at a competition.

Born in England but raised in Australia, Newton-John enjoyed considerable success in two mediums throughout the 1970s and 1980s. As a singer, she earned 15 Top 10 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, including five No. 1 hits like "I Honestly Love You" and "Physical," and 12 Grammy nominations, including four wins. Newton-John's success as a singer also led to an acting career that included the staggering box office hit "Grease" – which also generated three Top 10 hits — and "Xanadu."

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John became a tireless advocate for research and treatment. The disease returned in 2017 and metastasized to her back and bones. After penning a memoir, "Don't Stop Believin'," in 2018, Newton-John died at the age of 73 at her home in California's Santa Ynez Valley on August 8, 2022.

Tim Conway

Emmy-winning comic actor Tim Conway joined fellow performing vets Billy Dee Williams and June Squibb for Season 5's "Old Dog, New Tricks," which was penned by cast member Chris Colfer. The episode gave its three guest stars a few moments to shine as residents at a home for retired actors who are producing a stage version of "Peter Pan."

Conway began in regional television in the late 1950s before earning his first break on "The Steve Allen Show." A co-starring role on "McHale's Navy" led to several attempts to craft a TV series around him, but Conway always seemed to fare best as a supporting player; he was a hilarious improviser who frequently reduced his castmates on "The Carol Burnett Show" to hysterics, and teamed with another peerless TV comic, Don Knotts, in a string of '70s features for Walt Disney Pictures. Conway was also an in-demand guest star on numerous series like "Coach" and "30 Rock" (for which he won two additional Emmys) and a popular voice-over actor for animated projects, most notably as Barnacle Boy in "SpongeBob SquarePants."

In 2018, Conway was diagnosed with dementia due to normal pressure hydrocephalus, a condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up in the brain. He died from complications of the condition at the age of 85 in Los Angeles on May 14, 2019.

James Lipton

Best known as the creator, writer, and host of the long-running Bravo and Ovation series "Inside the Actors Studio," James Lipton appeared in the "Glee" Season 3 finale, "Goodbye." The episode, which concerned the graduation of eight Glee Club members, saw Finn audition for Lipton in order to win a spot at the prestigious Actors Studio. That same year, Lipton also interviewed several "Glee" cast members and co-creator Ryan Murphy on an episode of the "Actors Studio" series.

"Inside the Actors Studio" was the product of Lipton's work as the dean of the Actors Studio Drama School, a graduate program for actors that united the Actors Studio with New York's New School University. As part of its curriculum, Lipton recorded interviews with actors, directors, and writers about their crafts, which began airing on Bravo in 1994. Its success vaulted Lipton to pop culture stardom, which he parlayed into appearances, most often as himself, in series like "The Simpsons" and "Saturday Night Live."

Lipton was himself a former actor who began in radio during the 1940s and made appearances on Broadway and television during the 1950s. He segued into writing for television series like "The Guiding Light" and specials for comedian Bob Hope, as well as several novels and Broadway musicals. He remained with "Actors Studio" until 2018, earning 18 Emmy nominations (and winning one) during the show's 24-year run; Lipton died of bladder cancer at the age of 93 on March 2, 2020.

Patty Duke

Patty Duke may be one of the most accomplished faces ever to grace "Glee." She's not just a three-time Emmy Award winner, but an Oscar winner too, for best supporting actress in 1962's "The Miracle Worker," where she played real-life historical figure Helen Keller. She starred in "Valley of the Dolls" a few years later and the thriller "You'll Like My Mother" the following decade. In addition to guest-starring on numerous TV shows throughout her career — everything from "Ben Casey" to "Hawaii Five-O" to "Frasier" — she also had her own TV show, "The Patty Duke Show," in the 1960s.

Throughout the '80s and '90s, Duke made a career out of TV movies, starring in small-screen follow-ups to "The Amityville Horror" and "Rosemary's Baby" as well as a new version of her own classic, "The Miracle Worker." Duke — who guest-starred as Jan in the fourth season "Glee" episode "All or Nothing" — also had an early stint as a music artist, turning out six albums during the '60s, including a few chart-making hit singles like "Don't Just Stand There" and "Say Something Funny."

Acting was also a family business for Duke, who married "Addams Family" star John Astin in 1972. Their son Sean Astin is best known for roles in "The Goonies," "The Lord of the Rings," and "Stranger Things" (and also had a part in NCIS, believe it or not). Duke passed away in 2016 at the age of 69.

Tonita Locastro

In the Season 1 episode "Funk" we meet Imelda, the housekeeper who works for Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester. While she only shows up on screen in "Funk," she's played by actor Tonita Castro, who is no stranger to television despite not getting her career started until she was in her 50s. It was in 2005 that Castro made her debut on TV, guest-starring in an episode of the critically acclaimed cop drama "The Shield." From there she did a string of independent movies over the next two years before returning to the small screen.

Over the next decade, Castro showed up on "The Sarah Silverman Program," "The League," and "Dexter," among others, but it wasn't just cameos and guest spots for her. After she had a small part in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," Castro snagged a role in the main cast of the short-lived Matthew Perry comedy "Go On," alongside the likes of John Cho and Laura Benanti. 

The very next year, after "Go On" was canceled, Castro scored again with a part in the Seth Green comedy "Dads" on Fox, which co-starred Giovanni Ribisi, Brenda Strong, and Martin Mull. Following appearances on "Life in Pieces," "Bella and the Bulldogs," and the Timothy Olyphant series "The Grinder," Castro died in 2016, aged 63. Her final performance came posthumously a year later in "Wilson," playing a nanny in the Woody Harrelson film.

Phyllis Applegate

The "Glee" episode "Makeover" may be most famous for the first of three appearances by superstar Sarah Jessica Parker, but she's not the episode's only guest star. In addition to Parker is Phyllis Applegate, who appears on the Show Choir Rules Committee as Birdie Lawrence. Unlike Tonita Castro, who got a late start in her acting career, Applegate was showing up on television as far back as 1956, when she debuted with a part in an episode of "The Johnny Carson Show," in the days before he was doing "The Tonight Show."

After her debut, Applegate took some time away from Hollywood but returned a couple of decades later and never left. Late in the 1970s she showed up on "What's Happening!!" and "Mrs. Columbo" before hitting her stride in the 1980s, appearing in episodes of "Hill Street Blues," "Highway to Heaven," "Cagney and Lacey," and "Knight Rider." Though she rarely appeared in the same role more than once, two of the three times she did were on "Any Day Now" and "L.A. Law," where curiously enough her character was named Ida both times. On "My Name is Earl" she played Darnell's grandmother in a trio of episodes.

Towards the end of her career, Applegate appeared in a pair of episodes of "Better Call Saul" as Myrtle, a friend of Goodman's client Irene Landry. On film, she also had roles in "The Arrival," "Big Momma's House" and "Ruthless People." Applegate died at the age of 78 in 2023.

Barbara Tarbuck

William McKinley High geometry teacher Nancy Bletheim makes her presence felt in the third season premiere episode, "The Purple Piano Project," directed by actor Eric Stoltz. She's played by Barbara Tarbuck, perhaps best known to television audiences for a lengthy stint in the late '90s and 2000s as Jane Jacks, mother of Jasper and Jerry, on the classic soap opera "General Hospital." 

The late 1970s saw Tarbuck begin her acting career with episodes of "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Waltons," and the success didn't stop there. By the late 1990s she'd shown up in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "The Twilight Zone," and "The Golden Girls," and after the turn of the millennium, it was on to "NCIS," "Cold Case," and "Star Trek: Enterprise," making her one of many actors to play multiple characters in the sci-fi franchise. Some of her biggest roles came at the movies, including Dwayne Johnson's "Walking Tall" as well as '80s comedy classics like "Short Circuit" and "Curly Sue." Nevertheless, her television career was far more prolific, and she had roles in more recent acclaimed shows like "Mad Men" and "Dexter" in the 2010s.

Notably, Tarbuck appeared in three different shows from "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy: In addition to "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck," she had a recurring role as Mother Superior Claudia in "American Horror Story." Tarbuck died of Crueutzfeld-Jakob disease in 2016. She was 74.

Sonya Eddy

If you love TV sitcoms you probably know Sonya Eddy whether you realize it or not. That's because she had roles in some of history's biggest TV comedies. She made her debut in an episode of "The Drew Carey Show" in 1995 before following with episodes of "Married... with Children," "Martin," and "Family Matters." Perhaps most famously, Eddy played the disgruntled homeless shelter worker who gives Elaine a hard time in the "Seinfeld" episode "The Muffin Tops." Curiously named Rebecca DeMornay (like the actor), Eddy returned to the series in the episode "The Bookstore" as the same character, this time hassling George.

Like Barbara Tarbuck, Eddy might be most recognizable for a long-running recurring role on "General Hospital," where she played head nurse Epiphany Johnson between 2006 and 2022 for a whopping 543 episodes. She even got her own spin-off series of sorts, starring as Johnson in the short-lived "General Hospital: Night Shift," co-starring Kimberly McCullough, Jason Thompson, and Billy Dee Williams. That wasn't her only ongoing role, though — she also starred as Ramona in "Legit" and Tammy in "Those Who Can't." In between she showed up in episodes of "Castle," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," and "Adam Ruins Everything."

Before her death, Eddy closed out her career in the TV miniseries "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey." Sadly, she passed away at just 55 in 2022, due to an infection brought on by a non-emergency surgical procedure.

Michael Mandell

Michael Mandell didn't do much acting in his short career. Between his first role in 2007 to his last in 2012, he had just nine on-screen performances, but one of them was in the Season 2 "Glee" episode "New York" in 2011. Still, you'll find plenty of plum credits on his ever-so-brief TV and movie filmography. In addition to "Glee," that includes episodes of "The Electric Company," "Person of Interest," "Ugly Betty," and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." In between, however, Mandell made something of a name for himself, though it wasn't his television or movie work that made him famous.

Where Mandell earned notoriety wasn't on the screen — it was on the stage. A regular on Broadway, Mandell made his first appearance there in "Big River" way back in 1987 before he performed twice in the stage production of Will Ferrell's holiday classic "Elf," in 2010 and 2012. Some of Mandell's other stage productions included "It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues," "Hit the Lights," and "Miss Ever's Boys." Movie-wise, Mandell didn't do much, but he did appear in "I Love You, Philip Morris" and "Joe's Apartment." He died in 2020. 

Roger Keller

The role of Bill in the "Glee" installment "The Spanish Teacher" was filled by character actor Roger Keller. Another actor with a brief career on the screen, his first credit is in a 1987 episode of "Cheers," with episodes of "Matlock," "Wings" and "The Nanny" following in the early '90s. Beyond acting, Keller graduated from California State University with a degree in both theater and teaching, and worked for nearly three decades in the law offices of Polk, Scheer and Raphael.

Following appearances on sitcoms like "Murphy Brown," "Caroline in the City," and "Frasier" in the late '90s, Keller took a decade off from acting before returning for one final performance before his passing. That appearance was in "Glee" in 2012, five years before his death from cancer at age 67 in January 2017. Though he never had children of his own, Keller was survived by an ex-wife as well as a large family of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Suzanne Krull

Suzanne Krull had an impressive filmography across both television and film, but we're here because of her role in "Glee." It also came in the Sarah Jessica Parker-led installment "Makeover," where she appears as one of the interviewees at Vogue magazine ... and it was a part that proved one of the last of Krull's career. Long before that, though, she appeared first in an episode of "The Facts of Life" in 1988, before kicking off a run of movies that included "The Ties that Bind" and "8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" as well as the underrated Nathan Lane comedy "Mousehunt."

During her four decades on screen, Krull did it all, from comedies like "Arli$$" to cop dramas like "NYPD Blue" to kids' shows like "Phil of the Future" and "That's So Raven." She also turned up in some of the biggest hits you've ever heard of, with episodes of "Lost" (as fake fortune teller Lynn) and the mystery-comedy "Psych." She was even cast by "Glee" producer Ryan Murphy once before, with a guest appearance in an episode of "Nip/Tuck" a few years before "Makeover."

Krull's recognizable visage also made her stand out in movies like Jim Carrey's version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and Dwayne Johnson's "Race to Witch Mountain." She died in 2016 from what Huffington Post described as a rare connective tissue disorder. Also a writer and comedian, she was just 47 at the time of her passing.

Edmund Schaff

The "Glee" episode "Special Education" sees the glee club group New Directions facing off in a competition with a choir group called the Hipsters. This group isn't made up young, pony-tailed Brooklynites, though, but older singers who prove that age is just a number. They've come back to complete their high school education, and when they do, they take it upon themselves to enter the choir competition. They make a strong showing, too, performing the song "The Living Years," originally by Mike and the Mechanics. One of their members, old man Bill, was played by actor Edmund L. Shaff.

As it happens, Schaff often played officials of some sort or another. He showed up as a presiding judge in episodes of "Days of Our Lives," "Life Goes On," and "The Practice," while playing Dick Cheney in Comedy Central's "That's My Bush!" and other military officials and politicians in titles like "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman" "Falcon Crest," and "Malcolm in the Middle." He also often played religious figures, as ministers, preachers, and priests in "Space: Above and Beyond," "Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas," and "Quantum Leap." 

Schaff made one more acting appearance after appearing in "Special Education," in an episode of "Modern Family" before his death. He died in June 2023, just a month after celebrating his 88th birthday.

Jane Galloway Heitz

Actor Jane Galloway Heitz may have the most interesting distinction among all those who have appeared on "Glee," including cameos and guest actors in addition to its stars. When the show first premiered in 2009, Heitz showed up in the pilot episode as former Glee Club head Lillian Adler. Unfortunately, her scenes were cut from the initial broadcast, only seeing the light of day in a director's cut. But her face shows up in a framed photo in the Glee Club trophy case throughout the show, accompanied by the quote "By its very definition, Glee is about opening yourself up to joy." And it's Lillian's phantom presence that motivates Will (Matthew Morrison) to pursue the title of glee club director. 

Outside of "Glee," Heitz also appeared in two episodes of the Tony Shalhoub detective comedy "Monk," though most of her other roles were of the one-episode variety. This includes episodes of "Shameless," "CSI," and as Mildred in "The Big Bang Theory" episode "The Friendship Algorithm," also adding her to the list of "Big Bang Theory" actors we've lost.  

Heitz got her start in 1999 with a leading role in David Lynch's "The Straight Story," before she made the move to television. Once she did, though, it was on to the likes of "Early Edition," "ER," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Prison Break" before her role in "Glee." In addition to acting, she was also a talent agent. Heitz died in 2019 of heart failure at the age of 78.

Michael Lerner

Michael Lerner might be the most experienced actor to appear on "Glee"; while he was never much of a star, he counted nearly 200 credits across television and movies. He had a recurring role in "Glee," playing Sidney Greene, who first appears in the Season 4 episode "Sweet Dreams" and returns in five more episodes. A casting director and producer, Greene oversees the production of "Funny Girl" and seems most interested in discovering bright young talent.  

Some of Lerner's more distinctive appearances included movies, and they ran the gamut — from critically acclaimed dramas like the Coen brothers' "Barton Fink" to schlock box office bombs like 1998's "Godzilla," where he played New York's Mayor Ebert. He'd return to voice the same character in "Godzilla: The Series." It's likely no coincidence that Lerner's resemblance to noted movie critic Roger Ebert may have been exactly why he got the part. He also played Fulton, the tyrannical CEO of Greenway Press and boss of James Caan's Walter Hobbs, in "Elf."

Additionally, Lerner was part of the main cast of "Clueless" — the TV series based on the movie that was, ironically, originally developed as a TV series. There he played Mel Horowitz, Cher's father, inheriting the part played by Dan Hedaya in the 1995 film. Lerner died at 81 in 2023, from complications brought on by seizures he'd suffered the previous year.

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