Renowned actor Alan Arkin, known for his diverse seven-decade-long career, has passed away at the age of 89. His representative, Melody Korenbrot, confirmed the news, referring to a statement jointly released by Arkin’s sons Adam, Matthew, and Anthony on behalf of the family. They described Arkin as a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and as a man, highlighting his roles as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
While younger audiences may recognize Arkin for his role in the first two seasons of Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” where he portrayed Norman, the Hollywood agent of Michael Douglas’ character, his screen credits reveal his remarkable versatility beyond that. Arkin’s extensive filmography showcased a wide range of roles, always influenced by his sarcastic Brooklyn background but never limited by it.
In a 2007 interview with CBS News, when asked about his favorite role, Arkin humorously replied, “The Kaiser role has been a favorite.” However, he also expressed a fondness for characters who possess an air of cluelessness yet readily offer advice. Arkin often shared his thoughts on the craft of acting, although he maintained an uneasy relationship with the accolades and judgments that accompanied success.
Arkin held a unique place in the film industry, as he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his debut film, “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” at the age of 32. He also became one of the oldest actors to win an Oscar, receiving the award at 72 for his role as a foul-mouthed grandfather in the indie hit “Little Miss Sunshine.” Despite these achievements, Arkin maintained a critical view of the industry’s judgment of artistic merit, considering it largely arbitrary.
Born into an artistic family in Brooklyn, Arkin developed a passion for cinema and honed his English skills through visits to New York’s Thalia movie theater, known for showcasing foreign films with subtitles. His desire to immerse himself in different characters grew further when his family moved to Los Angeles in 1945. Although his father faced hardships due to unfounded accusations during the McCarthy era, Arkin persevered, ultimately finding success with The Tarriers, a folk group that achieved chart success in the late 1950s.
Arkin’s career took off when he joined the renowned improvisational group Second City, which led him back to Los Angeles and opened doors to numerous projects. His filmography ranged from social commentary to mysteries, fables to dramas, showcasing his immense talent and versatility. In his later years, Arkin experienced a career resurgence with acclaimed performances in “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Argo.”
Throughout his journey, Arkin remained critical of the industry’s preoccupation with money and fame. He believed that actors had a responsibility to their audience, urging them to prioritize authenticity over selling themselves. His best roles demonstrated this authenticity, where viewers saw characters rather than actors.
Alan Arkin is survived by his three sons from his previous marriages – Anthony, Matthew, and Adam Arkin – as well as his third wife, psychotherapist Suzanne Newlander. His legacy as a talented and genuine performer will be cherished in the film industry and among his fans.