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01st Jul 2023

Alan Arkin, Oscar-winning actor in Little Miss Sunshine, dies aged 89

Steve Hopkins

‘Hilarious, heartbreaking, and the ability to be terrifying, his range was amazing’

Acting legend Alan Arkin has died. He was 89.

The Oscar, Tony, Emmy, BAFTA, SAG, and Golden Globe winner best known for his roles in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ and ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, passed away at his home.

His sons confirmed the news in a statement to People magazine, saying: “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.”

Billy Crystal remembered Arkin as one of “our greatest actors”.

“Hilarious, heartbreaking, and the ability to be terrifying, his range was amazing. I cherish the chance I had to act with him.”

Seinfeld star Jason Alexander said: “Such a wonderful, original voice for comedy… I learned so much from watching him. And the laughs I got from his glorious work seem endless. May he rest well.”

Spinal Tap’s Michael McKean added: “Charming, hilarious, and armed with a flawless bullshit detector, he was pure pleasure to be with.”

Arkin began his acting career in 1957 and had a multi-decade career that spanned the likes of Catch-22 and Edward Scissorhands, screen and stage.

After a spell with folk act the Tarriers, with whom he had a chart hit with The Banana Boat Song, Arkin took to the stage and went on to win a Tony for the lead role in Enter Laughing in 1963.

His first major film role, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, earned him an Oscar best actor nomination.

He followed that up with the villain role in the Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark, and the lead in Carson McCullers adaptation The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, for which he received another best actor Oscar nomination.

Arkin won an Emmy nomination for the 1987 TV movie Escape from Sobibor, and subsequently excelled in supporting or ensemble roles.

In Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands he played Winona Ryder’s grumpy father, he was one of the office salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross, and a therapist to John Cusack’s hitman in Grosse Pointe Blank.

In 2007, he won as Oscar for best supporting actor, for his role as a heroin-snorting granddad in Little Miss Sunshine.

Most recently, Arkin co-starred in The Kominsky Method for Netflix alongside Michael Douglas, earning Emmy nominations in 2019 and 2020, and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations in 2020 and 2021.

Arkin was married three times: to Jeremy Yaffe between 1955 and 1961, Barbara Dana between 1964 and 1994, and to Suzanne Newlander, who survives him.

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Alan Arkin

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