Actor Charles Grodin, whose comic characters were almost always hapless, and whose serious characters generally gave that trademark haplessness a sinister twist, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Wilton, Conn. He was 86.
His death, from bone marrow cancer, was confirmed to NPR by his son, actor Nicholas Grodin.
He was the obstetrician who gave Rosemary’s Baby to a coven of witches, the dog owner who couldn’t control his enormous Saint Bernard in the Beethoven movies, and the man who met the girl of his dreams just a little bit late in The Heartbreak Kid. He was, sad to say, on his honeymoon.
Grodin credited Elaine May’s direction of The Heartbreak Kid with jump-starting his film career in 1972, though he’d made his debut as an uncredited child actor almost two decades earlier in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He became a familiar face in such comedies as Heaven Can Wait and Midnight Run, in which he played an accountant pursued by Robert De Niro after having embezzled from the mob.