Gene Dynarski, a character actor known for his roles on Seinfeld and in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, has died. He was 86.
Dynarski died Feb. 27 in a rehabilitation center in Studio City, Calif., according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the news of his death. He is survived by two daughters.
Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Dynarski memorably appeared on the Seinfeld episode “The English Patient” as Izzy Mandelbaum Jr., the son of the ultra-competitive elderly man played by Lloyd Bridges. The pair reprised their roles in another episode, “The Blood,” on the next season. Dynarski appeared on numerous other TV shows, including Star Trek: The Original Series — on which he played two different characters — and The Next Generation, the 1960s Batman series (paying Benedict, a henchman of Vincent Price’s Egghead), The X-Files, and The A-Team. He made his screen debut in 1965, on the medical drama Ben Casey.
Dynarski also had a handful of film roles, appearing in Spielberg’s feature directorial debut, Duel, as a man the protagonist confronts in a café, as well as Close Encounters. His other credits include Earthquake and All the President’s Men.
In 1979, the actor opened his own theater in Hollywood, where such actors as Ed Harris and Tom Hanks performed before it closed in the 1990s.
“It’s hard to be around it all the time. I used to go to shows and movies every night, just to get away,” Dynarski told the Los Angeles Times of the theater in 1987. “You see, I live in the theater — have ever since it opened. There’s no separate space; I just find little nooks and crannies to be in. They used to call that bohemian.”
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