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Monk Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

The USA Network hit detective comedy "Monk" premiered on July 2, 2002 and was an immediate hit with critics and audiences alike. "Wings" and "Big Nighty" scene-stealer Tony Shalhoub played the eponymous Adrian Monk, a San Francisco investigator whose brilliant powers of deduction went hand-in-hand with an extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and germophobia. Aided by his caretaker/assistant Sharona (Bitty Schram) in the first three seasons and Natalie (Traylor Howard) from Season 4 onward, along with former SFPD colleagues Capt. Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lt. Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford), Monk went toe to toe with murderers across the Bay Area. Like his TV detective ancestor Lt. Columbo, many of Monk's targets were the rich and powerful who thought they were untouchable, and who underestimated the eccentric detective at their peril.

Though the series had some serialized storytelling, usually involving the murder of Monk's wife Trudy, most of the episodes were standalone mysteries, perfect for well-known guest stars to drop in and have some fun for an hour. Some familiar faces across the show's eight seasons include John Turturro and Dan Hedeya as Monk's brother and father, respectively, Sarah Silverman as a dedicated Monk fan, and Willie Nelson as himself. Unfortunately, many of the show's guest and recurring actors have died since the show's end in 2009. Now that it's been around 20 years since it debuted, let's look back at some "Monk" actors you may not know have passed away.

Meat Loaf

In Season 8's "Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse," a series of seemingly accidental deaths involving voodoo dolls has Natalie unexpectedly freaked out. That dread turns to terror when she receives a doll with her name on it from the killer in the mail. To help calm her down, Monk and Stottlemeyer enlist the services of a local voodoo priest played by rock star Meat Loaf to perform a cleansing ceremony that goes predictably awry.

Born Marvin Aday in 1947, Meat Loaf burst onto the scene in the 1970s, known for his large frame, powerful voice, and theatrical bombast. His collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman, the 1977 album "Bat Out of Hell," became a worldwide smash after being rejected by every major record label; Meat Loaf and Steinman would release two sequel albums in 1991 and 2006. As an actor, his break came in 1968 when he was cast in the Broadway production of the flower child musical "Hair." He played the role of Eddie in the 1975 Broadway production of "The Rocky Horror Show" and in its film adaptation "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" later that same year. Many of his roles would lean into the gothic, supernaturally tinged persona that defined his music, likeon "Monk" or the Uwe Boll-directed video game adaptation "Bloodrayne." That said, in David Fincher's "Fight Club," arguably his most famous non-musical role, Meat Loaf played an ordinary guy. Meat Loaf died in January 2022; no official cause of death was given, though some sources (including TMZ) claim that it may have been COVID-19 related.

Robert Loggia

A boxer (James Lesure) barely escapes a bombing attempt in Season 7's "Mr. Monk Takes a Punch." As a championship fight nears, Stottlemeyer believes that there will be another attempt on the boxer's life. Monk, meanwhile, is obsessed with preparing for the SFPD fitness exam, spending much of the episode in a bright purple jogging suit, and contemplates what might happen if he fails the test. Classic tough guy character actor Robert Loggia is on hand as the boxer's stern but loving trainer.

Loggia's career spanned more than half a century. After studying with legendary acting teacher Stella Adler, Loggia paid his dues in small parts on television and in films such as "The Ninth Configuration" and Bible epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told." A string of notable roles in the 1980s changed his trajectory, starting with Blake Edwards' "S.O.B.," the Golda Meir TV biopic "A Woman Called Golda," and Brian DePalma's gangster classic "Scarface." In 1986, Loggia got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the his role in the Richard Marquand thriller "Jagged Edge." Two years later, he playing "Heart and Soul" on a floor-sized keyboard with Tom Hanks in "Big." In the '90s and '00s, he had notable roles in "Independence Day" and "The Sopranos," as well as a well-remembered ad for Minute Maid orange juice. Loggia died of Alzheimer's Disease in 2015.

Willie Garson

Consummate television actor Willie Garson made just one appearance on "Monk" in Season 3, as Adrian's long-suffering landlord Leo in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Panic Room" — perhaps better known as the one with the chimpanzee. When a famous record producer is killed in his own panic room, the prime suspect appears to be the producer's pet chimp. As Monk works on the case, the chimp comes home with him, wrecking the place and causing Monk to slip into a dissociative episode. Leo arrives at the house, furious that Monk has apparently put the house up for sale, then doubly so when he sees the chimp. It's a brief but essential scene, as the primate's frenzied reaction to seeing Leo's bald head ends up cracking the case.

With a body of work stretching across over 150 films and television series, Garson transcended his "Hey it's that guy!" character actor status with well-known turns on the USA conman series "White Collar" and the HBO megahit "Sex and the City." Born in 1964 as William Garson Paszamant, he studied acting at Yale University and began booking network TV roles in the mid-1980s. While his primary work was in television, he appeared in several of the Farrelly brothers' films, including "Kingpin" and "There's Something About Mary." Garson also directed an episode of "White Collar" and the Disney series "Girl Meets World." He died in September 2021 at age 57 of pancreatic cancer.

Charles Durning

When a doctor is beaten to death with an oxygen tank in Season 5's "Mr. Monk Goes to the Hospital," the murder weapon shows up in the room of cantankerous 82-year-old Hank Johansen, played by veteran actor Charles Durning. Could this seemingly bedridden patient have really been the killer? Or is he being set up to take the fall for someone else?

Durning's life was as exciting as any Hollywood movie. Born in 1923 to an Army family, he served in World War II and was part of the Normandy invasion force on D-Day. After the war ended he worked odd jobs around New York City as a laborer, a dance instructor, and a boxer–even once appearing on the same fight card at Madison Square Garden as future fellow character actor Jack Warden. Durning caught the acting bug when he filled in for a drunken actor one night at the burlesque theater he was working at, and by the mid 1960s he was a regular on Broadway stages and on New York-based television shows. His stocky build and gruff demeanor made him a natural fit to play cops and other authority figures (including Santa Claus) in such classics as "The Sting," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Tootsie," and the Coen brothers films "The Hudsucker Proxy" and "O Brother Where Art Thou." Durning continued to work right up to his death of natural causes in 2012, guest starring as Dennis Leary's father in several episodes of the FX firefighter drama "Rescue Me."

Doris Chillcott

Canadian actress Doris Chillcott had a brief but memorable role in the two-hour pilot episode of "Monk." In it, San Francisco mayoral candidate Warren St. Claire (Michael Hogan) is targeted by a sniper who shoots one of his aides instead. At the memorial service, St. Claire gives a eulogy in front of an open casket; the aide's mother (Chillcott) is in the front row. Monk and Sharona are sitting in the balcony, but when Monk accidentally drops his keys into the coffin, he rigs up a hook and line via a paper clip and dental floss to lower down and snag the keys. Instead, he grabs the dead body's sleeve and pulls the body's arm up in front of the horrified attendants.

A veteran of film, television, and the stage, Chillcott was born in Vancouver in 1930. Her theatre work took her all over Canada, though Vancouver would remain her home base. She played small roles in the many film and television projects that filmed there, including the dark Fox Network drama "Millennium," the 2001 family film "Cats & Dogs," and the '90s Canadian high school drama "Northwood." Chillcott was also a longtime theatre and performing arts educator in the Vancouver school system. She died in November 2006.

Eric Gelman

Actor Eric Gelman had two brief roles on Seasons 2 and 3 of "Monk," both times playing a paparazzo (though presumably not the same one). In Season 2's "Mr. Monk and the T.V. Star," Gelman is seen in a crowd of cameramen around the gated entrance of the home of TV detective Brad Terry's (Bill Burke) ex-wife, shortly before she is found dead. He finds himself in a similar position in Season 3's "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas," as a photographer in the lobby of a Vegas casino, snapping photos of casino magnate Daniel Thorn (James Brolin) and his wife, shortly before the wife is killed after getting her scarf caught in the elevator door (or so it would seem!).

These were Gelman's first on-camera roles, and sadly, his last. On the night of April 17, 2005 Gelman was leaving his day job at a Los Angeles restaurant when he was stabbed to death in an apparent robbery attempt. A homeless man named Kim McMurray was arrested for the murder; the case against him was tried three times due to hung juries in the first two trials. In the third, McMurray was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, though he and his attorneys have maintained his innocence, blaming the conviction on tampered evidence.

Jane Galloway Heitz

Chicago-based casting agent turned character actress Jane Galloway Heitz appeared on "Monk" twice in 2007, first as one half of an elderly couple whom Disher busts by accident in Season 5's "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm," then as a jaded cab stand operator who helps a restless Monk identify a mysterious woman in Season 6's "Mr. Monk is Up All Night."

Born in Minnesota in 1941, Galloway Heitz moved to Chicago after college to pursue acting. She eventually opened up her own casting agency and was instrumental to the early careers of actors such as Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, and "Modern Family" star Eric Stonestreet. In 1997 she sold the agency to focus full-time on acting, appearing in the David Lynch drama "The Straight Story" and the 2007 Lindsay Lohan thriller "I Know Who Killed Me," on stage at Steppenwolf Theatre and Geffen Playhouse, and on episodes of "ER" and "The Big Bang Theory," among many others. Galloway Heitz was perhaps best known for her small but pivotal role on "Glee" as Lillian Adler, the former Glee Club teacher whose death sets the plot of the series in motion, and whose portrait can be found in the club's trophy case. She died on November 13, 2019 in Illinois at age 78.

Darlene Kardon

Character actress Darlene Kardon had a specialty in playing sweet old ladies; her character's name in Season 4's "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty" was even Sweet Old Lady. Seen in flashbacks in this riff on "Twelve Angry Men," Sweet Old Lady was in the jury selection room only to be found dead in a dumpster days later while the Monk-led jury is in deliberation. Was she killed in order for someone to plant themselves in the jury? And if so, who? Kardon made a brief appearance two years later in Season 7's "Mr. Monk Falls in Love" as a refugee from the fictional Eastern European nation of Zemenia.

Born in 1928, Kardon made her small screen debut at age 60 on a 1988 episode of "The Golden Girls." She worked steadily in television for the next 25 years, with credits on "L.A. Law," "Friends," "Scrubs," and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Her film work was rare, but she appeared in Christopher Guest's folk music parody "A Mighty Wind" and the 2008 drama "All God's Children Can Dance." Kardon died in November 2019 (via legacy.com).

Kathryn Joosten

Emmy-winner Kathryn Joosten played the nurse of a bombing suspect in Season 2's "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect" and Monk's former babysitter in Season 7's star-studded 100th episode, "Mr. Monk's 100th Case." Presented as an episode of a TV news magazine profiling Monk, Joosten's babysitter reminisces, "People don't believe me when I tell them, but he used to change his own diaper. Then he would crawl across the room and throw it out. Remarkable."

Joosten's own life and path to stardom was remarkable as well. Born in Florida, she had an entire life and career as a nurse and single mom in the Chicago suburbs before deciding to pursue her acting dreams. Starting as a street performer at Disney World, Joosten moved to California and soon made her screen debut on a 1995 episode of the ABC sitcom "Family Matters." Joosten worked steadily in television throughout the 1990s, but her two most famous roles wouldn't come until the 2000s. She played President Jed Bartlett's secretary on 30 episodes of the hit NBC political drama "The West Wing," from 1999 to 2002. Then, in 2004 she was cast as nosy neighbor Karen McCluskey on ABC's suburban satire "Desperate Housewives." The role would earn her four Emmy nominations, of which she won two in 2005 and 2008. The series finale aired just a month before her death from lung cancer on June 2, 2012.

Glenne Headly

Capt. Leland Stottlemeyer's wife Karen, played by formidable stage and screen actress Glenne Headly, was only seen in four episodes across the run of "Monk," but their rocky marriage was a running plot point from the very first episode, when Monk correctly deduces that Leland is not living at home at the moment. Karen did not make her first appearance on the show until Season 2's "Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man," where she turns to Monk for help when she suspects that the death of the world's oldest man was in fact foul play. The Stottlemeyers would separate for good in the Season 4 episode "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage," Headly's last appearance on the show.

An early member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre alongside Laurie Metcalfe, Gary Sinise, and future husband John Malkovich, Headly was in a string of notable films in the 1980s and early 1990s, including the Steve Martin con artist comedy "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy," the Western miniseries event "Lonesome Dove," and "Mr. Holland's Opus." She was Emmy nominated twice, for "Lonesome Dove" and the 1996 Dorothy Allison adaptation "Bastard Out of Carolina." Headley was working on the Hulu scifi comedy series "Future Man" when she died of a pulmonary embolism in 2017.

Stanley Kamel

New Jersey-born actor Stanley Kamel played Adrian's endlessly patient psychiatrist Dr. Charles Kroger from the very first episode all the way to Season 6's "Mr. Monk Paints His Masterpiece," the last episode to air before Kamel's death in 2008. Through the years Dr. Kroger was a tether to the no-police side of Monk's life — except for those times when he got involved with the case of the week, as when called upon to de-program Monk after he joins a cult in Season 6.

Born in 1943, Kamel studied acting under the legendary teacher Stanford Meisner and made his television debut in the late 1960s, guest starring on shows such as "Mission: Impossible" and "The Mod Squad." In 1972 he landed the role of Eric Peters on the daytime soap "Days of Our Lives," which he played for over 180 episodes before leaving the show in 1976. Kamel's career continued apace in the '80s and '90s; he had recurring roles on "Cagney and Lacey" and "Melrose Place," but mostly worked as a journeyman television actor, popping up in a single episode of one thing or another for a scene or two. "Monk" was his longest television job, 44 episodes across six years. Kamel died of a heart attack on April 8th, just two months after his last episode aired. The character was written out as having also died of a heart attack, and actor Hector Elizondo took over as Monk's new doctor for the remainder of the series. The Season 7 premiere was dedicated in Kamel's honor.