Charles Grodin, Star of “The Great Muppet Caper” and EPCOT’s “Cranium Command” passed away at 86

Charles Grodin, best known for his roles in The Heartbreak Kid and Beethoven, has passed away at the age of 86 after a battle with bone marrow cancer.

What’s Happening:

  • Charles Grodin, a dry, offbeat, actor and writer has passed away at the age of 86. His son, Nicholas Grodin, had revealed the news and added that he had died in Connecticut from bone marrow cancer.
  • After a series of minor roles, Grodin received critical acclaim and became widely known with a role in 1972’s The Heartbreak Kid, starring alongside Cybill Shepherd.
  • After that, he had numerous roles, including King Kong (1976), Heaven Can Wait, The Woman in Red, and Ishtar. His performance alongside Robert DeNiro in 1988’s Midnight Run make that movie one of the most recognized of the buddy comedies. He also jumped into the family genre, playing father George Newton in Beethoven and it’s sequel Beethoven’s 2nd. He also played the Dinosaur World Ride Designer-turned-Mass transit architect uncle of Martin Short’s Clifford in the 1994 cult classic. Grodin also appeared numerous times on late-night television, including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as over the top characters.
  • After turns in Dave, Heart and Souls, and So I Married an Axe Murderer, Grodin left acting for a while and hosted talk shows on CNBC, MSNBC, and eventually on to 60 Minutes II.

  • Disney fans will largely recognize Grodin as Nicky Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper, the jewel thief (and irresponsible parasite) brother of Lady Holiday who attempts to woo Miss Piggy while chasing after the fabulous Baseball Diamond. This wasn’t his last appearance with the Muppets however, as he would return as Quentin Fitzwaller, a bumbling security guard at Walt Disney World who makes Rizzo the Rat help him track down “The Kismet Gang” in The Muppets at Walt Disney World.

  • Disney park fans will immediately think of his role in EPCOT’s now defunct Cranium Command, one of the marquee attractions of the Wonders of Life pavilion that debuted in 1989. He played Left Brain in an ensemble of characters, along with Jon Livitz as his counterpart, Right Brain. His dry, witty, sardonic demeanor played well into the character that always used logic and reason when making decisions to help pilot the brain of a 12-year old boy captained by new recruit, Buzzy.
  • Grodin is survived by his wife of 38 years, author Elissa Durwood Grodin, their son Nicholas, daughter-in-law Aubrey and granddaughter Geneva, and daughter comedian Marion Grodin, by a previous marriage to Julia Ferguson.