Jordan Derwin, former SAG board member and lifetime member of the national board of AFTRA, died Jan. 7 of cancer at Calvary Hospital in New York. He was 68.
Involved in a highly controversial Screen Actors Guild election last year, with his incumbency challenged and the vote won by Kelly Craig, Derwin had served tirelessly for the Guild for more than 20 years while battling cancer. Among his accomplishments was chairing the New York Background Advisory Committee and co-chairing the National Health Plan Committee, the National Legislative Committee and the Low-Budget Ad Hoc Task Force. Derwin was also the vice chair and board liaison for the Young Performers Committee.
Derwin’s committee involvement reflected issues he was concerned with such as agent relations, contract negotiations, health coverage, guild government, industrial work, stunt and safety, member relations and affirmative action. His expertise as an actor and as a union activist benefited the guild’s senior and background actors, as well as young performers.
As a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Derwin served on the union’s national board from 1982 to 1993 and on the New York local board form 1982 to 1993. He was also a member of the union’s Network Code, Theatrical and TV, and Industrial Non-Broadcast negotiation committees. For many years Derwin represented AFTRA as a delegate in conventions.
A graduate of the U. of Pennsylvania and NYU’s law school, Derwin practiced law for 25 years before segueing into acting. Primarily a background actor, Derwin made many appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman,” often portraying network executives in skits. He also acted in over 30 episodes of “Saturday Night Live” and in several soap operas. Derwin’s film credits include “Cotton Club,” “Zelig,” “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can,” “Stardust Memories,” “Cadillac Man” and “Into Thin Air.”
In 1998, Derwin was given the Ken Harvey Award by AFTRA’s New York chapter, the union’s highest honor, for his outstanding service to the union. He was also recently recognized by SAG for his outstanding service to the guild.
Derwin is survived by his wife, Joan, two daughters and a son-in-law.
In lieu of flowers, family suggests donations in his name be made to the Motion Picture Player’s Welfare Fund, c/o SAG, 1515 Broadway, 44th Floor, New York, NY 10036.