Ian Abercrombie, who played Elaine's boss Mr. Pitt on 'Seinfeld' from 1994 to 1998, died Thursday at the age of 77. He had recently been diagnosed with lymphoma, but the Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center says Abercrombie died from complications of kidney failure.
On Seinfeld, Abercrombie played one of the most-beloved side characters on the show, starring opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus' character Elaine Benes for seven episodes. Even though the actor starred in more than 180 movies and TV shows in his lifetime, Abercrombie said Seinfeld changed his life.
"Incredibly so," Abercrombie said. "I mean, I have been around as an actor for 40-odd years, and this show knocked me out of the ballpark."
In the show, Abercrombie's wealthy businessman character Mr. Pitt had a fair share of quirks. He ate Snickers bars with a knife and fork, and he was responsible for one of the show's big laughs, when ink from his favorite 3-D painting, through a series of mishaps, led Mr. Pitt to accidentally give a riveting speech looking like Adolf Hitler.
"I was a pain in the neck. I was a hypochondriac. I was many things, and I just made her life so miserable," Abercrombie said. "She wouldn't take the salt off my pretzels, you know. She brought me white socks... she did a lot of things for me, but she could never do it right."
Abercrombie was born in town of Grays in Essex, England, on Sept. 11, 1934. During the World War II years, he performed as a dancer in London, Scotland, Ireland and Holland, until moving to the U.S. at 17. Starting in 1955, Abertcrombie was involved in various regional and off-Broadway theatre shows, including a number of Shakespeare revues.
In 1957, Abercrombie was drafted by the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany as part of the "Special Services" team, where he directed two one-act plays collectively called "Separate Tables." When he returned to California after the war, Abercrombie began a long career in film and TV, winning several awards for his roles in "Sweet Prince" and "A Doll's House."
In film, Abercrombie had roles in popular films such as "Wild Wild West," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "Rango," and the 1992 cult horror film "Army of Darkness." Beyond Seinfeld, Abercrombie's many TV roles included Emperor Palpatine in the "Star Wars: Clone Wars," both the film and TV series and he just completed his voice work on "Green Lantern: The Animated Series," just before his death.
Abercrombie was a founding member and former board member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in Los Angeles. He is survived by his brothers Douglas, Donald and Alex, and his wife, Gladys.