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Mad About You Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Before "Friends" became a huge hit for NBC, there was the Emmy-award-winning sitcom "Mad About You," a romantic comedy starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as a married couple living in New York City. The show followed Paul (Reiser) and Jamie (Hunt) Buchman in their day-to-day lives as they juggled their careers and families while experiencing the ups and downs of their relationship. "Mad About You" aired for seven seasons on NBC, plus a revival season that was picked up by Spectrum Originals in 2019.

Thanks to soaring ratings and several awards, "Mad About You" was one of the NBC network's most popular sitcoms of the 1990s. Along with crossovers with other hit shows like "Friends" and "Seinfeld," the series managed to acquire a long list of guest stars and recurring characters, many of whom were distinguished TV legends. It's been over 20 years since the original series went off the air, and fans may be surprised to discover that some of the beloved cast members have passed away. Here is a list of actors that appeared on "Mad About You" that are no longer with us.

Gilbert Gottfried's iconic voice made an appearance in Season 4

In the Season 4 episode "The Couple," Paul and Jamie meet a handsome twosome at the local dog park and decide to invite them out to the theater. This results in a fine time between the group, but the Buchmans are shocked to discover that Doug (Brian McNamara) and Didi (Lisa Waltz) are not married but are actually two people having an affair. This leads to a serious discussion between Jamie and Paul, as Jamie's fears come to light that if such a normal-looking pair could be capable of adultery, she and Paul might also be.

Gilbert Gottfried, the celebrated actor and comedian who passed away in April of 2022, made a brief cameo during the episode's first scene. Gottfried played a dog owner at the park who can be heard yelling at his dog Spanky to sit, then berating the animal for making him "look like an idiot." Gottfried's face is hidden from the camera, but his distinctive voice is impossible to miss. Gottfried's death was caused by type II myotonic dystrophy, according to his publicist (via NBC News).

Dick Clark made a cameo on a New Year's Eve episode

There was once a time when New Year's Eve wasn't a party without famous TV personality Dick Clark. Clark was the host of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" on ABC for over 30 years, and before that he hosted the musical performance series "American Bandstand" from 1956 to 1989.

In the "Mad About You" episode "New Year's Eve," the Buchmans are forced to celebrate the coming of 1996 apart, as the two have conflicting plans. Paul is going to document the two men who operate the ball drop at Times Square while Jamie is attending a fancy party hosted by the mayor. This doesn't sit well with either of them, as they have never spent New Year's Eve apart since they got together.

The entire evening goes awry, culminating in the disaster of the ball getting stuck and the countdown coming to a halt. Dick Clark witnesses this fiasco on TV from the comfort of his own home and remarks, "Oh sure! The one year I decide to stay home!" Clark died of a heart attack in 2012.

Cloris Leachman appeared in the Mad About You revival

In 2019, a single-season revival of "Mad About You" picked up where the Buchmans left off 10 years prior. With their daughter Mabel (Abby Quinn) about to enter college, Jamie and Paul struggle with empty nest syndrome and what it means to keep a marriage strong during their golden years.

In the episode "Boundaries and Nakedness," Jamie starts the first day of her new career as a therapist. She meets with a patient named Mrs. Mandelbaum, played by comedic actor Cloris Leachman, and they form an immediate rapport. Unfortunately, Jamie takes things a little too far when she interjects herself into Mrs. Mandelbaum's life, going against the very strict therapist's code. She soon discovers that the sweet elderly woman has a knack for manipulation, and Jamie is forced to put her foot down.

Cloris Leachman died in January 2021 from a stroke contributed by COVID-19 (via People) after a lucrative acting career. Leachman appeared in acclaimed television series such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle" and had memorable performances in Mel Brooks' films "Young Frankenstein" and "The History of the World, Part I."

Abe Vigoda appeared in Paul's documentary in one episode

In the "Mad About You" episode "Farmer Buchman," Paul's latest documentary causes a rift between him and Jamie. The film is titled "People Who Aren't Famous, But Should Be," a subject that appears to fascinate Paul but that Jamie finds "dull." A clip from the documentary shows Paul interviewing Kalman Wertzel, played by Abe Vigoda, who was the inventor of the moist towelette.

Star of stage and big and small screens, Abe Vigoda was perhaps best known for his role in "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II," where he played Salvatore Tessio, a friend of the Corleone family. He also played the cantankerous detective Philip K. Fish on the ABC sitcom "Barney Miller" and went on to have his own spinoff series with the character "Fish" in 1977.

Though Vigoda's death was falsely reported on several occasions –- leading to various hilarious gags in the media -– Vigoda actually did die in 2016 of natural causes.

Alex Trebek's voice once made a cameo

The death of "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek was a tragic time for longtime fans of the TV game show personality. He began hosting the celebrated quiz show in 1984 and continued his hosting duties until his death in 2020 from pancreatic cancer. The Canadian-American began his career working for the CBC in the early 1960s and would go on to host quiz shows for the network like "Reach for the Top" and "Strategy," as well as occasional sports and news broadcasts.

In a Season 4 episode of "Mad About You," Paul and Jamie receive shocking news from Paul's sister, Deb (Robin Bartlett), that the married couple is distantly related. Although this is later proven to be false, it does cause the Buchmans to question their mental faculties. When their book club assigns "Moby Dick" for their latest read, they worry that their lack of understanding of the novel's deeper meanings could be due to their shared bloodline.

The start of the episode shows Jamie and Paul watching "Jeopardy!" and failing to correctly answer the trivia questions, which adds to their mental performance anxieties. Trebek provided an audio cameo for the scene as himself.

Sydney Pollack played a therapist in a Mad About You guest role

Throughout seven seasons of "Mad About You," Paul and Jamie have had their share of marital disputes. To help settle their issues, they attended marriage counseling sessions with Dr. Sheila Kleinman (Mo Gaffney). In the Season 6 episode "Cheating on Sheila," the Buchmans start to have doubts about their regular therapist. While attending a party hosted by Sheila, they meet Dr. Sydney Warren, played by legendary film director, producer, and actor, Sydney Pollack. It seems that Dr. Warren might be better suited for their needs, although this leads to guilt and conflict over their abandonment of Dr. Sheila.

Sydney Pollack was an acclaimed director known for helming award-winning films such as "Tootsie," "The Way We Were," and "Out of Africa." He also appeared as an actor in several TV shows and movies, including "The Twilight Zone," "Will & Grace," "Eyes Wide Shut," and "Michael Clayton." He died of cancer in 2008.

Estelle Harris had a cameo in a Season 1

For some couples, shopping can be a fun excursion to do together. For Paul and Jamie Buchman, it's a near existential crisis. In "Sofa's Choice," a second season episode of "Mad About You," Jamie takes Paul to purchase a new couch that she's had her eye on. The shopping trip turns from a simple errand to an ordeal that sends Paul's anxieties flaring. Is it a couch or a love seat? Must one feel obligated to "neck" while sitting on a love seat? Would it be wrong to sit on one alone? Paul's neuroses get the better of him as Jamie turns to her best friend, Fran (Leila Kenzle), for her opinion, leaving Fran's husband, Mark (Richard Kind), to ruminate with Paul.

In a scene with Mark and Paul at a men's clothing store, an older woman approaches Paul and asks him to try on a sweater, as he is about the same size as her son. The woman is played by Estelle Harris, whom many will remember as Estelle Costanza on "Seinfeld." She also lent her distinct voice to the role of Mrs. Potato Head in the "Toy Story" movies. Harris died in April 2022 of natural causes at age 93.

Sid Caesar played Paul's Uncle Harold in a hilarious performance

Paul's work as a documentary filmmaker has taken him to some interesting places, and none were perhaps quite as interesting as his film "Buchman," which explored the history of his family tree. In the Season 5 episode, "Citizen Buchman," Paul's Uncle Marty (Shecky Greene) suffers a heart attack on camera and passes away. In his final moments, Marty utters his greatest regret -– two words that baffle the family and has everyone divided: "Hoo moos."

As the family gathers for Marty's funeral, Paul's Uncle Harold, played by the comedy legend Sid Caesar, has his own theory about "hoo moos." In a hilarious improv, Harold told a story of a boyhood accident that he attributed as being Marty's greatest regret. The tale appears to satisfy the family, and in Paul's eyes, the end of his film.

Considered one of the greatest sketch comics of his age, Sid Caesar worked with some of the era's greatest comedic minds, including Steve Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Neil Simon. Caesar died in 2014 at 91 years old.

Bruno Kirby played a homeless man in an episode

Even in the strongest of marriages, individuals need their own space –- an oasis, if you will. For Paul, that oasis is the gym, where he has the opportunity to be anonymous among an array of fitness enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Paul's peace is interrupted when Jamie altruistically offers her free gym pass to a down-on-his-luck homeless person named Virgil in the Season 5 episode "The Gym." When Virgil tries to enter the establishment, he is kicked out by the owner due to prejudice, causing a moral dilemma for Paul.

Virgil is played by character actor Bruno Kirby, son of acclaimed television star Bruce Kirby. Kirby appeared in such films as "The Godfather Part II," "When Harry Met Sally," "This Is Spinal Tap," and the "City Slickers" movies. He appeared in several TV shows as well, including "Room 222," "Columbo," "Fame," and "The Larry Sanders Show." Kirby died of complications due to leukemia in 2006.

Carl Reiner played an iconic character in a hilarious Mad About You episode

In the Season 3 "Mad About You" episode "The Alan Brady Show," Paul is making a documentary on the history of television and needs the perfect narrator. For him, that narrator is Alan Brady, a classic TV sketch comic. However, Brady is a bit more high maintenance than Paul was expecting, and it takes a lot of convincing to get him on board. Far from being the amiable personality that Paul was expecting, Brady is a terror who insists on having creative control over the project. Paul enlists Jamie's help to charm Brady over to his side, and in the process, they discover something surprising about Jamie's mother.

Carl Reiner received an Emmy for his guest appearance as Alan Brady and shines in every second that he appears on screen. Reiner was one of the biggest comedic influencers since his career began in the 1950s. As a screenwriter, actor, director, and producer, Reiner proved himself to be a jack of all trades in the entertainment industry. Fans of television history may recognize the name Alan Brady, as Reiner portrayed the character of the same name (and disposition) on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Reiner was also known for being in a comedy duo with Mel Brooks and was the father of acclaimed director Rob Reiner. He died of natural causes in 2020 at the age of 98.

Jerry Lewis played a wealthy billionaire

Yet another comedy legend, Jerry Lewis, appeared in a Season 1 episode of "Mad About You," playing eccentric billionaire Freddie Statler. Statler is a big fan of Paul's work and wants to hire him to make a documentary about his life. Paul eagerly accepts, but Freddie's eccentricities make Paul's job difficult. Statler continuously showers Paul and Jamie with gifts, making it tough for Paul to say no to the wealthy man's demands -– especially when Freddie begins to integrate himself a little too much into the Buchmans' lives.

Lewis was well known for his physical comedy, which he demonstrates plenty of in this episode, titled "The Billionaire." His trademark vocal stylings and malapropisms are also prevalent throughout. Lewis was a star of the big and small screen in the 1950s and 1960s. He teamed up with singer Dean Martin in a nightclub act that soon moved to radio and television, with Martin playing the straight man and Lewis his wild, bumbling companion. Lewis was once one of the biggest box office successes of his time, known for his starring roles in "The Nutty Professor," "The Bellboy," and "Cinderfella." Lewis died in 2017 at age 91 of heart disease.

Estelle Getty had a brief cameo as Paul's Aunt Ida

In the "Mad About You" Season 5 two-parter, "The Birth," the Buchmans welcome their new baby, Mabel, to the family. Like many labor stories, this one is filled with excitement and madness — and Bruce Willis in a hospital gown. Besides the famous "Die Hard" star, there's also another familiar face in the mix. The episode starts with Paul interviewing his Aunt Ida for his "Buchman" documentary. Ida claims to have been acquainted with the cousin of the famous composer Ira Gershwin, a man named Milton — or "Skippy," to his friends. The older woman then wanders out of the room, obliviously knocking over camera equipment as she goes.

Although it's only a brief cameo in a momentous episode, most fans will likely recognize "The Golden Girls" star Estelle Getty as Aunt Ida. Getty won a Primetime Emmy for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the beloved sitcom, a character she played for seven years. Getty also appeared in TV shows "Empty Nest" and "Blossom," and the films "Tootsie," "Mask," and "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot." Getty was 84 when she died in 2008 of Lewy body dementia.

Tim Conway was a guest in the Mad About You finale

In the series finale for "Mad About You," a grown-up Mabel (Janeane Garofalo) breaks the fourth wall to explain why she is the way she is. The episode jumps back and forth between present and future timelines, as Jamie and Paul discover in the present day that their marriage was never actually legal. To remedy this, they go to city hall where they speak to a clerk, who also happens to be a justice of the peace. In a rushed ceremony, Jamie hesitates during their "I-dos" and leaves Paul at the altar.

Tim Conway made a guest appearance as the clerk in the two-part finale. Conway was a famous comedian of TV and film, best known for his work on "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Tim Conway Show." Conway also performed a lot of voice acting in his later years, including providing the voice of Barnacle Boy in "Spongebob Squarepants." In 2019, Conway died at the age of 85.

Ed Asner had a recurring role in Mad About You

Edward Asner appeared in three episodes of "Mad About You" over the course of the fourth and fifth seasons, playing Zigmund "Ziggy" Klarik. His first appearance was during an emotional three-part finale, with Paul and Jamie uncertain of their future after Jamie kissed a co-worker. Zigmund was the wealthy father of Lisa's (Anne Ramsay)​​ fiancé, Sanford (Billy Morrissette), but he also happened to have an old feud with Paul's father, Burt (Louis Zorich). Klarik is a brash, gruff, and altogether unpleasant man who believes his wealth and power can get him whatever he wants.

Asner was perhaps best known for his portrayal of Lou Grant, the fictional TV news producer on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and later the spin-off series, "Lou Grant." He was also acclaimed for his roles in two mini-series: "Roots" and "Rich Man, Poor Man." He won a total of seven Primetime Emmy Awards for his performances. Later in his career, Asner became well known for his role as Santa Claus in the 2003 holiday comedy "Elf," as well as for lending his voice to Carl Frederickson in Pixar's "Up" in 2009. Asner died in 2021 of natural causes.

TV legend Carroll O'Connor played Jamie's father

In a long-running sitcom like "Mad About You," there are bound to be a few cast changes. During the first few seasons of the show, Jamie's parents, Theresa and Gus Stemple, were played by Penny Fuller and John Karlen. Their roles were taken over by comedian Carol Burnett and actor Carroll O'Connor beginning in the Season 5 episode "Jamie's Parents." Burnett went on to have a recurring role on the series, while O'Connor's made his final appearance in the Season 5 finale, "The Birth."

A highly respected character actor, O'Connor achieved huge success for his role as the uber-conservative Archie Bunker in the 1970s sitcom "All in the Family." He won both a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of the iconic character. O'Connor went on to yet another hit TV series, this time a drama, when he played Police Chief Bill Gillespie in the acclaimed police procedural, "In the Heat of the Night." He won yet another Emmy and two more Golden Globes for his performance in the crime drama. O'Connor died of a heart attack in 2001.

Fred Willard played a recurring character in Mad About You

Months after giving birth to Mabel, Jamie decides she is ready to rejoin the political fray in the Season 5 episode, "Back to Work." By chance, she meets famous political strategists James Carville and Mary Matalin while eating at their regular diner, Riff's. She is quickly offered a job by their associate, Henry Vincent, working at their New York office, and is thrilled to accept. Things soon take a turn, however, when Jamie realizes how much she misses Mabel and feels that maybe she isn't quite ready to return to the workforce.

Henry Vincent was played by actor Fred Willard, who had a recurring role in five "Mad About You" episodes. Willard's career spanned over 50 years in both television and film. He was a veteran of The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago and appeared in a number of films written and directed by Christopher Guest, including "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind," and "This Is Spinal Tap." Besides "Mad About You," Willard had many guest appearances in shows such as "The Golden Girls," "Married... With Children," "Roseanne," "Friends," and "Modern Family," among others. Willard died in 2020 of natural causes at age 86.

George O. Petrie played Paul's sassy assistant, Sid

Paul's career as a documentary filmmaker was the focus of many episodes in "Mad About You." From the saga of the Buchman family to the tale of a stubborn sidewalk weed, Paul has covered an array of subjects. Through each of his film journeys, he has had a loyal assistant by his side –- some who were more helpful than others.

As played by George O. Petrie, Sid was Paul's assistant editor, appearing in nine episodes of the series in Seasons 3 and 4. Sid's sarcastic demeanor and complete lack of enthusiasm made for plenty of laughs at Paul's expense. Petrie began his career in radio dramas during the 1940s and '50s, performing in "The Amazing Mr. Malone," "The Falcon," and "Mr. District Attorney." He acted in several television shows, including regular roles in "The Honeymooners," "Leave it to Beaver," and "Dallas." He had roles in the films "Gypsy," "Hud," and the John Hughes classic "Planes, Trains & Automobiles." Petrie died in 1997 on his 85th birthday.

Louis Zorich played Paul's father, Burt Buchman

Though Jamie's parents were played by two sets of different actors, Paul's parents, Burt and Sylvia Buchman, were portrayed by the same actors through all seven seasons of "Mad About You." Sylvia, Paul's controlling, if well-meaning, mother, was played by Cynthia Harris, while Paul's father, Burt, was portrayed by Louis Zorich.

Burt and Sylvia were some of the show's most memorable supporting characters, both appearing in about 70 episodes. Burt Buchman was a loveable, larger-than-life character who provided plenty of laughs for fans of the series. One of Burt's trademarks was the hilarious habit of knocking on Paul and Jamie's door and announcing, "It's me, Burt Buchman! Your father!"

Louis Zorich began his career in theater during the 1960s, where he earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in "Hadrian VII." He appeared in the Academy Award-winning musical film "Fiddler on the Roof" and had a memorable role in the 1984 Muppets movie, "The Muppets Take Manhattan." He married fellow actor Olympia Dukakis in 1962. Zorich died in 2018 at the age of 93.