Mordecai Lawner, a lifelong actor who appeared in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall,” died of heart failure at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City on Thanksgiving. He was 86.
In Allen’s 1977 hit “Annie Hall,” Lawner played the father of Allen’s character Alvy Singer. In a flashback to Singer’s childhood living under the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster, Lawner can be seen admonishing his wife for firing the cleaning woman.
“She has no money!” he proclaimed. “She’s got a right to steal from us! After all, who is she gonna steal from if not us?”
His other movie credits include “Ghostbusters II” and “A Fish in the Bathtub.”
Lawner was a regular on and Off Broadway. On Broadway in 1995, he played Stanley in “Death of a Salesman” in George C. Scott’s Circle in the Square production.
Lawner continued to perform in regional productions into his 80s, including “Tuesdays With Morrie” in Saratoga Springs, New York. He also recently traveled to Los Angeles to shoot an Esurance commercial airing now.
He often shared the stage with his wife Eugenia Thornton, who died in 2005. Lawner also taught at the High School of the Performing Arts, Neighborhood Playhouse and at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
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Lawner graduated from City College of the City University of New York. Except for a tour of duty in Germany in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and years teaching in the theater program at Carnegie Mellon, he lived in Manhattan most of his life.
Lawner was a member of Actors’ Equity, SAG and AFTRA.
He is survived by Carol Hershman, Bruce Birnbaum, Francine Falk Ross, Pamela Falk, Deborah Birnbaum and Sarah and Mitchell Langbert, along with many nephews and nieces.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, December 6, at 4:30 pm at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, 1076 Madison Avenue. Call 212-288-3500 for more information.