Character actor John Finnegan dies at 85

Appeared in Cassavetes films, 'Columbo'

Character actor John Finnegan (also frequently credited as J.P. Finnegan), who appeared in five films by his friend John Cassavetes and repeatedly on “Columbo,” starring Cassavetes cohort Peter Falk, died July 29 in Palm Desert, Calif., of pneumonia and age-related causes. He was 85.

Finnegan studied at the Actors Studio, where he met both Cassavetes and Falk. He had roles in Cassavetes’ “A Woman Under the Influence,” “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” “Opening Night,” “Gloria” and “Big Trouble.”

He also played a baseball scout in Barry Levinson’s “The Natural,” starring Robert Redford, a judge in Oliver Stone’s “JFK” and a director in Peter Bogdanovich’s “Nickelodeon,” and he voiced primary villain Warren T. Rat in animated feature “An American Tail.”

The actor made his screen debut in 1972 feature “Play It as It Lays” but spent more time working in television than film. He made 12 appearances in various roles on “Columbo” from 1972 to 2003 and also appeared on “McCloud,” “Police Woman,” “Banacek” and “Ellery Queen.” He also showed up in comedies such as “All in the Family” and “Maude” and later appeared on episodes of “Matlock,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “ER.”

Born to Irish immigrants in New York, Finnegan served in the Navy during WWII.

He is survived by his wife Carolynn and four children from his first marriage.

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