Alan Arkin, a witty character actor who showed his range in comedy and drama while earning four Academy Award nominations and an Oscar in 2007 for “Little Miss Sunshine,” has passed away. He was 89.
Through the actor’s publicist on Friday, his sons Adam, Matthew, and Anthony provided confirmation of their father’s passing. In a statement, they claimed that their father “was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man.”
A member of Chicago’s renowned Second City comedy group, Arkin achieved early film success with the Cold War parody “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” and reached his professional height in his later years when he won the best supporting actor Oscar for the unexpected 2006 hit “Little Miss Sunshine.” His first Oscar nomination, for “The Russians are Coming,” came more than 40 years after his nomination for his role as a cunning Hollywood producer in the Oscar-winning film “Argo.”
He received two Emmy nods for his role in the Netflix comedy series “The Kominsky Method,” which he played with Michael Douglas in recent years.
Arkin reportedly made light of the fact that character actors don’t have to strip off for their roles in an interview with The Associated Press. Although he wasn’t a sex icon or a big star, he did appear in more than 100 TV shows and films. His hallmarks were likeability, relatability, and total engrossment in his roles, no matter how unusual, whether he was playing a Russian submarine officer in “The Russians are Coming” who finds it difficult to communicate with the similarly uneasy Americans, or standing out as the foul-mouthed, drug-addicted grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Director of “The Russians are Coming,” Norman Jewison, once remarked that Alan “has never had an identifiable screen personality because he just disappears into his characters.” He can even modify his appearance, and his accents are flawless. … He has never been taken seriously, in part because he has never put his own achievement first.
Arkin was chosen by Carl Reiner to play the youthful protagonist in the 1963 Broadway comedy “Enter Laughing,” which was based on Reiner’s semi-autobiographical book, while still a member of Second City.
He received positive reviews and Jewison’s attention as he was getting ready to helm a comedy about a Russian submarine that causes chaos when it gets too close to a small New England town in 1966. Arkin demonstrated his ability to play a villain in his next significant movie, albeit grudgingly. In the movie “Wait Until Dark,” Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman who is being held captive by a ruthless drug dealer who believes there is a heroin shipment stashed in her flat.