×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ian Abercrombie dies at 77

Played Elaine's boss Mr. Pitt on 'Seinfeld'

British-born actor Ian Abercrombie, who memorably played Mr. Pitt, Elaine’s wealthy, persnickety boss, on “Seinfeld,” died Thursday, Jan. 26, in Los Angeles from complications of kidney failure. He was 77 and recently had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

In recent years Abercrombie had recurred as an 800-year-old wizard on Disney Channel’s “The Wizards of Waverly Place,” did voicework for “Star Wars: Clone Wars” as Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious and was a series regular on “Birds of Prey” (as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler). But while he was a near-constant presence on the smallscreen since the late 1960s — with 127 TV credits, according to the IMDb — and appeared in dozens of films, Abercrombie considered himself a stage actor first and foremost.

Born in Grays, Essex, Abercrombie began his showbiz career as a dancer onstage during WWII. Later he made his U.S. stage debut in a 1955 production of “Stalag 17” with Jason Robards and performed in plays in summer stock, regional and Off Broadway venues.

Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957, he served in Special Services stationed in Germany, directing a production of “Separate Tables” and appearing with Olivia de Havilland in her touring show.

The actor settled in California after his Army stint.

Stage credits over the past four decades include “Mary Stuart,” with Marsha Mason; “Crucifer of Blood,” with Charlton Heston; “The Wrong Box,” with Bill Hutton; “Bent”; “The Vortex,” with Rupert Everett; “Lettice and Lovage”; “Sweet Prince,” with Keir Dullea; “A Doll’s House,” with Linda Purl; and “The Arcata Promise” opposite Anthony Hopkins. The actor drew acclaim for the one-man show “Jean Cocteau — A Mirror Image” and played Alfie Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.”

After making his smallscreen debut in 1965 on “Burke’s Law,” Abercrombie went on to make guest appearances on “Dragnet” and “Get Smart”; on “Columbo,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Cannon” and “The Six Million Dollar Man”; and, during the 1980s, on shows including “Quincy,” “Happy Days,” “Fantasy Island,” “Three’s Company,” “L.A. Law” and “Moonlighting.” During the decade he also had a recurring role on the NBC soap “Santa Barbara,” and he guested on primetime sudsers including “Falcon Crest” and “Dynasty,” while later he appeared on “General Hospital” and “Days of Our Lives.”

During the 1990s he appeared on “The Nanny,” “Murphy Brown,” “Northern Exposure,” “Blossom,” “Touched by an Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” to name just a few. Recent credits included “Desperate Housewives” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

Abercrombie’s film credits include “Army of Darkness” (in which he played Wiseman), “Wild Wild West,” “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School” and David Lynch’s “Inland Empire,” and he did voicework on animated pics including “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties” and last year’s “Rango.”

The actor was a founding member and former board member of BAFTA-LA as well as a board member for the Actors Fund.

Abercrombie is survived by three brothers.

More TV

  • Ariana Grande Olivia Munn Michael Che

    Celebrities vs. Critics: Why This Battle Has No Winners (Column)

    When actor Olivia Munn tweeted a “short essay on…ugly behaviors” late Wednesday night, she insisted that a blog had been unfairly maligning her for years. She wrote that she wanted to confront the idea that baseless critiques, particularly those aimed at women, are never okay no matter how famous the target may be. On the [...]

  • ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game in

    ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game Will Pitch Players Into the Action

    “Peaky Blinders” fans will be able to join the gang – virtually – in a new VR game that will allow players to interact with characters from the hit series. Start-up immersive studio Maze Theory teamed with the show’s producers and is making the game, which will launch in 2020. Artificial intelligence technology means characters [...]

  • TV News Roundup: HBO's 'Deadwood: The

    TV News Roundup: HBO Releases 'Deadwood: The Movie' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO released the trailer for the “Deadwood” film, and CNN announced a premiere date for “Apollo 11.”  DATES The documentary “Apollo 11” from director/producer Todd Douglas Miller will premiere on CNN Sunday, June 23 at 9 p.m. Using only archival sources, the film captures NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission. FIRST [...]

  • shannon ryan

    Shannon Ryan Joins Disney TV, ABC as Marketing Chief

    Former Fox Television chief marketing officer Shannon Ryan has been tapped as the new president of marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios. The announcement was made by Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, and Craig Hunegs, president of Disney Television Studios, to whom she will report. Rumours had been circling for a while [...]

  • Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce Writers

    Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce First Class of Writers and Mentors for TV Incubator

    Rideback, Dan Lin’s production company, and MRC have announced the inaugural class of writers and mentors for their TV incubator.  The new TV writers residency program, which was launched in February, offers a paid, eight-month residency program to a group of writers who have each previously been staffed on series and want to create their [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content