Len Lesser & the Academy Awards

Posted on 24 February 2011 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano

Cast of Two and a Half Jews – Mark Robert Gordon, the late Len Lesser & the late Bruce Adler

Best known for playing “Uncle Leo” in Seinfeld, Len Lesser had worked steadily as a character actor for over 60 years. Since the dawn of television, each decade, Lesser has had a part in popular TV shows, from The Untouchables to Everybody Loves Raymond.

After his service in World War II, Lesser pursued the craft of acting, thanks to his old friend, Lee Marvin. Lesser worked steadily for 65 years with a resume that includes 500 television shows, over 50 movies and 100 plays. Clint Eastwood spat on him in The Outlaw Josey Wales. In The Birdman of Alcatraz, he wrestled the rock from both Burt Lancaster and Karl Malden.

When I interviewed Mr. Lesser three years ago, the actor said of his career, “I have always been busy as an actor. I am fortunate to make a living and raise a family.”

He recalled a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

“It was a spiritual and solemn occasion with people dressed in exotic robes and submitting prayers to the wailing wall,” he said.

His religious moment was interrupted when he heard a person’s scream, “Hey, Look! It’s UNCLE LEO!”

We lost this kind gentleman last week. Hopefully, this Sunday, the Academy Awards will memorialize this reliable character actor whose track record goes beyond Uncle Leo.

Oscar Parties!

At Cinema Paradiso, the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival will host an Oscar-watching party featuring Michelle’s fine cuisine of The King’s Speech Chicken a la King, A Biutiful Paella, True Grit roasted potatoes and dessert featuring Black Swan Cake and Ice Cream Bar with Winter’s Bone toppings. www.fliff.com.

There are three film festivals proposed for Palm Beach county in March and April, and the veteran Palm Beach International Film Festival will host the only party that is sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This Oscar Night America will be held at the Bash of Boca on 6018 SW 18 St. in Boca Raton. Local red carpet arrivals begin at 7:30 p.m. www.pbifilmfest.org.

• Despite reports of the demise of PBIFF last year, Executive Director Randi Emmerman has managed to reunite the core PBIFF team and has expanded the festival to eight days during the last week of March. An announcement about the details is expected.

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