R.I.P. Danny Goldman

In the spirit of the Halloween season, we were enjoing Larry Hagman’s jaw-dropping Blob sequel Beware the Blob (1972) a couple of weeks ago on Criterion and it reminded me to schedule a post on Danny Goldman, a supporting player I had noticed in many well-known movies and tv shows. Goldman would have been 80 today, but we were saddened to discover that he passed away in April. The official cause was stroke.

If I were to describe Goldman in a capsule (which is by definition unfair), I’d say something like “the hippie generation’s Arnold Stang“. He played the kind of parts Austin Pendleton might (in the way that he might) but in smaller roles. Often he was a bit player in ensembles, but he stood out, often because he was given a stand-out bit. Preston Sturges would have loved him. Robert Altman used him in both MASH (1970) and The Long Goodbye (1973), although in the former he resembles both Bud Cort and Corey Fischer in some ways and is apt to get lost (he stands out more in The Long Goodbye). Goldman’s best known turn may be as the annoying medical student in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974), who keeps hammering Gene Wilder with questions. Other movies included Disney’s The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973), Terror on the 40th Floor (1974, made for TV); the TV version of the musical It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman (1975); Linda Lovelace for President (1975); The Missouri Breaks (1976); Tunnel Vision (1976); Where the Buffalo Roam (1980) with Bill Murray; and Wholly Moses! (1980).

Goldman was a regular on four tv series: the sitcom The Good Life (1971-72) with Larry Hagman, David Wayne and Donna Mills (which is undoubtedly how he wound up in Beware the Blob); the sitcom Busting Loose (1977) with Adam Arkin; the voice of Brainy Smurf on The Smurfs (1981-89, another of his best known roles); and The New Mike Hammer (1984-87). He was also a memorable guest star on such shows as That Girl, Room 222, The Partridge Family, Love American Style, Columbo, Happy Days, Hawaii Five-O, Baretta, Chico and the Man, Kojak, Lou Grant, Quincy M.E., Trapper John MD, Alice (3 episodes — which reminds us that he may also may be compared to Alice regular Marvin Kaplan), and The Love Boat, et al. His last screen credits were a couple of turns on Criminal Minds in 2011 and 2012.

Goldman was also known in Hollywood for operating a casting service from 1979 to 2009. Prior to his screenwork, he played stage roles with the Actors Theatre of Louisville. He was, in case there is any doubt, from New York City.