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Marvin Kaplan, Character Actor Known for ‘Alice’ and ‘Top Cat,’ Dies at 89

Marvin Kaplan, a character actor known for the sitcom “Alice” and his voice-over work as Choo-Choo on the animated series “Top Cat,” has died. He was 89.

He died of natural causes on Wednesday in his home in Burbank, Calif., according to a statement released by Theatre West.

Apart from “Top Cat,” Kaplan was well-known for his recurring role on the CBS series “Alice” as Henry Beesmeyer, a phone company employee named who often visited Mel’s Diner. He also appeared in small roles in films such as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Great Race” and “A New Kind of Love.” He played Uncle Pooch in David Lynch’s 1990 “Wild at Heart.”

“It is with a sad and heavy heart to inform you our very own Marvin Kaplan passed away today at 5 a.m. in his sleep,” the statement reads. “We loved Marvin. He will truly be missed.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kaplan was discovered when Katharine Hepburn saw him in a theater production of Moliere, and he made his film debut in 1949’s “Adam’s Rib” starring  Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Known for his sarcastic and deadpan delivery, Kaplan was featured in a variety of films, TV shows and animated series throughout his 60-plus year career, including “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Love, American Style,” “Petticoat Junction,” “Gidget” and “My Three Sons.” He did voiceover work for animated shows including “Wait Til Your Father Gets Home,” “The Smurfs” and “Johnny Bravo.”

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, “Marvin was the face that everyone recognized. He was your kindly neighbor; your favorite uncle or, as he was on the sitcom Alice, a ‘regular guy’ phone company employee and the favorite coffee shop customer. Marvin was one of the most recognizable character actors of his generation, and he was a proud union activist and leader. We are forever grateful for the gift of his work and his service to our members.”

In addition to acting, Kaplan served as AFTRA Los Angeles local president for eight years and Performers’ Governor on the Television Academy. He was also a member of the California Artists Radio Theatre, Motion Picture Academy and the Academy of New Musical Theatre.

A memorial service has been planned at Theatre West in Los Angeles. A date and time has yet to be announced.

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