Character actor Leonard Termo, who appeared alongside Mickey Rourke in five 1980s films, died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday at his Santa Clarita, California home, his friend, actor Elias Koteas, said Friday. He was 77.
Termo voiced Steve’s dad in the 2001 animated short Clay Pride: Being Clay in America, directed by David Karlsberg and Jon Watts.
The Brooklyn-born Termo guested in the infamous Seinfeld episode “The Mango,” which opened the series’ fifth season. In it, he portrayed the owner of Joe’s Fruits who bans Kramer, then Jerry, when Michael Richards’ character crabs about a bad peach.
Later, George eats one of Joe’s mangoes, which apparently ends his erectile dysfunction. “I think it moved!” George announces in bed.
Termo first appeared in films in 1983’s Heart Like a Wheel. The following year, he portrayed a gay waiter opposite Rourke in The Pope of Greenwich Village. Other appearances with Rourke were in Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon (1985), Barbet Schroeder’s Barfly (1987), A Prayer for the Dying (1987) and Homeboy (1988).
His other movies included Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club (1984), Johnny Dangerously (1984), Turk 182! (1985), Ruby (1992), Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994, as a makeup man), David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), Fight Club (1999) and Ali (2001).
TV series in which he appeared included Wiseguy and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Termo became an actor in the mid-1970s, leaving his job as a businessman in New York’s garment district. To change careers, he “left it all — my wife, my kid, my money, everything,” he told New York magazine in a November 1983 profile of Rourke. “I love acting. I’m broke. I sleep on a cot.”
Rourke befriended Termo after seeing him in a Los Angeles theater production. The pair were longtime friends.
“If they told me they’d chuck a few years off my life, but I knew when I went that Lenny would go with me, I’d do it in a second,” Rourke said in a 1987 Playboy interview.
Termo and Rourke were once scheduled to appear in a Cimino biography at Embassy Pictures about “Legs” Diamond with Rourke as the 1930s gangster and Termo as his bodyguard. However, the film never was made.
Rourke could not be reached for comment.
A memorial service is planned for January 15, with details to be announced, Koteas said.