British-born character actor Ian Abercrombie, known for portraying Elaine Benes’ fussy boss Justin Pitt on Seinfeld, died Thursday in Hollywood. He was 77.
In seven episodes of the series, he played the boss who wore white knee socks and ate candy bars with a knife and fork. He fired Elaine after becoming convinced that she — with Jerry as an accomplice — had tried to murder him with drugs.
Abercrombie voiced Ambrose in last year’s Oscar-nominated Rango. He also portrayed Ganthet in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, completing his work on the latest episode of the Cartoon Network show just before his death.
He had a recurring role as Palpatine/Darth Sidious on George Lucas’ animated series The Clone Wars, also voicing a pirate on the episode “Nightsisters.” He was Palpatine in the 2008 movie Star Wars: The Clone Warsas well.
In The Batman, he guested as Ewen in the episodes “Grundy’s Night” (2005) and “The Icy Depths” (2006). He was F in “Scythe 2.0,” a 2005 episode of Grim & Evil.
In live action, Abercrombie portrayed Smithee in the partly animated 2006 movie Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties.
Born in Grays, Essex on September 11, 1934, Abercrombie had a career spanning over 50 years. He performed on stages in London, Holland, Ireland and Scotland before coming to the United States in 1951 at 17.
Debuting on film in Von Ryan’s Express (1965), he also appeared in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), The Molly Maguires (1970), Young Frankenstein (1974), Puppet Master III (1991), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (2005).
Abercrombie played the Wise Man in Sam Raimi’s 1972 comedy-horror flick Army of Darkness (1972). He was 800-year-old wizard Professor Crumbs on the live-action Disney Channel hit Wizards of Waverly Place.
He was a regular on the WB Network’s Birds of Prey. Abercrombie appeared on dozens of other shows as well, including Get Smart, Hunter, L.A. Law, Dynasty, Northern Exposure, NewsRadio, Murphy Brown and Desperate Housewives.
Making his American stage debut in a 1955 production of Stalag 17 opposite Jason Robards, he was seen in the theatrical productions Mary Stuart (with Marsha Mason), The Crucifer of Blood (with Charlton Heston as Sherlock Holmes), The Vortex (with Rupert Everett) and The Arcata Promise (with Anthony Hopkins).
A founding member and former board member of BAFTA-LA, he was also a board member of the Actors Fund of America.
Ian Abercrombie is survived by brothers Douglas, Donald and Alex.