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Acclaimed Actor Alan Arkin of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ Fame Passes Away at 89

by Lucas Garcia
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Alan Arkin death

Versatile and cherished actor Alan Arkin, who garnered an Academy Award in 2007 for his brilliant performance in “Little Miss Sunshine,” and was a four-time nominee, has passed away at the age of 89.

His death was confirmed on Friday by his sons Adam, Matthew, and Anthony via the actor’s publicist. In a heartfelt statement, they said, “Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man.”

Tributes poured in from Hollywood, with notable figures such as Paul Reiser, Michael Rapaport, Patton Oswalt, and Jason Alexander expressing their admiration for Arkin. Alexander, on Twitter, lauded Arkin for his significant comedic voice and kind-hearted nature.

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Arkin’s career, rooted in Chicago’s acclaimed Second City comedy group, reached cinematic heights with “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” and his award-winning role in “Little Miss Sunshine.” His first Oscar nod, for “The Russians are Coming,” was over 40 years prior to his nomination for playing a cunning Hollywood producer in the celebrated movie “Argo.”

In recent times, he held a prominent role opposite Michael Douglas in the Netflix series “The Kominsky Method,” for which he secured two Emmy nominations.

Michael McKean tweeted on Friday, remembering how he admired Arkin’s versatility, “When I was a young actor people wanted to know if I wanted to be a serious actor or a funny one,” he shared. “I’d answer ‘Which kind is Alan Arkin?’ and that shut them up.”

Famed for disappearing into his roles, Arkin showcased his acting skills in over 100 TV and feature films. His memorable performances ranged from a Russian submarine officer in “The Russians Are Coming” to the edgy, drug-addicted grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

“Alan’s never had an identifiable screen personality because he just disappears into his characters,” observed director Norman Jewison, underlining Arkin’s immersive acting style and impeccable accents.

While still with Second City, Arkin was selected by Carl Reiner to star in the 1963 Broadway play “Enter Laughing,” based on Reiner’s semi-autobiographical novel. He then ventured into darker roles, notably in “Wait Until Dark” as a ruthless drug dealer terrorizing a blind woman, played by Audrey Hepburn.

Arkin’s career was marked by varied roles, from the sensitive man in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” to a clueless French detective in “Inspector Clouseau.” His exceptional talent led to lead roles such as Yossarian in the 1970 adaptation of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” and supporting roles in fan-favorite movies like “Edward Scissorhands” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Arkin’s later works included the 2017 remake “Going in Style,” featuring Oscar winners Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and the voice of Wild Knuckles in the 2022 animated movie “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

His directorial achievements include dark comedy “Little Murders” and Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys.” Arkin also left his mark on television with series such as “Fay,” “Harry,” and “100 Centre Street.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Arkin moved to Los Angeles with his family at the age of 11. A lifelong fascination with movies led him to pursue acting at Los Angeles City College, California State University, Los Angeles, and Bennington College in Vermont.

His marriage to fellow student Jeremy Yaffe resulted in two sons, Adam and Matthew. After their divorce, Arkin wed actress-writer Barbara Dana, and they had a son, Anthony. All three sons followed in their father’s footsteps into acting.

Arkin launched his entertainment career with The Tarriers, a folk music group. His acting debut was in dramatic roles in off-Broadway plays. Later, at Second City, he discovered his comedic talent.

This obituary was chiefly written by the late Bob Thomas, a distinguished journalist for Big Big News. AP National Writer Hillel Italie from New York contributed to this report.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alan Arkin death

When did Alan Arkin pass away?

Alan Arkin passed away in July 2023 at the age of 89.

For which film did Alan Arkin receive an Academy Award?

Alan Arkin received an Academy Award in 2007 for his role in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

How many Academy Award nominations did Alan Arkin receive in his career?

Throughout his career, Alan Arkin received four Academy Award nominations.

What is one of Alan Arkin’s most known roles in recent years?

One of Alan Arkin’s most known roles in recent years was his part in the Netflix series “The Kominsky Method,” which earned him two Emmy nominations.

What were some notable tributes after Alan Arkin’s death?

Notable figures such as Paul Reiser, Michael Rapaport, Patton Oswalt, and Jason Alexander expressed their admiration and grief for Alan Arkin following his death.

What is Alan Arkin’s acting background?

Alan Arkin was a part of Chicago’s famed Second City comedy group. He appeared in over 100 TV and feature films throughout his career, demonstrating versatility and immersive acting.

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5 comments

Bella T. July 1, 2023 - 3:39 am

This is such sad news, Alan Arkin was such a brilliant actor. Little Miss Sunshine won’t ever be the same 🙁 RIP.

Reply
RichardInLA July 1, 2023 - 4:50 am

Sad to hear of Arkin’s passing. Met him once at a film festival – so gracious and kind. His legacy will surely live on in his films.

Reply
Cinephile87 July 1, 2023 - 5:56 am

arkin was the real deal, comedy, drama you name it, he was brilliant in all of it. his performance in argo was just mind blowing.

Reply
LisaMcB July 1, 2023 - 1:07 pm

His roles were just amazing! Always brought a sense of realism and depth. what a loss for Hollywood and us all.

Reply
DanTheMovieFan July 1, 2023 - 11:00 pm

oh man, not alan arkin! i loved his work, so versatile, could make u laugh and cry in the same scene. A true legend.

Reply

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