The Sydney Lassick Centennial

Born 100 years ago today: Sydney Lassick (1922-2003) !

Let me answer your question right away, Lassick was the guy who played Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). Though Lassick had been a bit player since the late ’50s and had studied at Pasadena Playhouse, Cheswick proved one of his first decently sized roles. Cheswick is one of the bigger parts in the ensemble, larger for example, than the parts played by Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd. It’s probably his best remembered role. Lassick was 53 years old when he played the part.

For the next quarter century Lassick work ranged from roles of roughly Cheswickian dimensions, to periodic returns to bit parts. Truth be told, Lassick was not a terribly convincing thespian (he was about on the level of Larry “Bud” Melman), but he was an extremely valuable type: small, balding, chubby, bespectacled, usually whiney and ineffectual. Great directors sought him, In addition to Milos Forman, he worked with Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, and Bill Duke, among others. Horror directors especially seemed to love him. After Cuckoo’s Nest, he was in such films as Carrie (1976), The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977), 1941 (1979), Alligator (1980), The Unseen (1980), History of the World Part One (1981), Pandemonium (1982), Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead (1991), Shakes the Clown (1991), Deep Cover (1992) and Man on the Moon (1999). He had a recurring role on the tv show The New Mike Hammer (1984-86), and also guested on such shows as Barney Miller, Baretta, Eight is Enough, Amazing Stories, Night Court and The X Files. His last role was in a low-budget thing called Vice a.k.a. Texas Taliban (2000) with Bo Hopkins and Randall “Tex” Cobb.