Comedian and actor Steve Landesberg, best known as Detective Sergeant Dietrich on Barney Miller, passed on December 20, 2010 at the age of 74. The cause was colon cancer.
Steve Landesberg was born in New York City on November 23, 1936. In the late Sixties he was a stand up comic, known for his deadpan delivery and akimbo observations. He made his film debut in a bit part in You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat (1971). He also made his television debut that year on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1972 he made his first of many appearances on The Dean Martin Show. He also appeared on The David Frost Show. In 1973 he appeared in the movie Blade. From 1974 to 1975 he was a regular on the TV show Paul Sands' Friends and Lovers.
In 1975 Mr. Landesberg was cast as Detective Sergeant Arthur P. Detriech on Barney Miller. Detective Sergeant Detriech was a soft spoken genius with knowledge on nearly every subject under the sun. Indeed, he often stated such facts in Mr. Landesberg's standard, deadpan delivery. He stayed with the show until it went off the air in 1982. In the Seventies he would also guest star on When Things Were Rotten, The Rockford Files, On the Rocks, and Fish (as Detective Sergeant Dietrich). In the Eighties he guest starred on Mr. President, Nine to Five, and Saturday Night Live. He also appeared in the movie Leader of the Band (1988). In the Nineties he guest starred on The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, Dinosaurs, Law and Order, Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place. He appeared in the movies Little Miss Millions (1993), The Crazysitter (1995), and Puppet (1999). In the Naughts he guest starred on Twice in a Lifetime, That 70's Show, Everybody Hates Chris, and The Cleaner. He was a regular on Head Case. He appeared in the movies Wild Hogs (2007), and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008).
Steve Landesberg was a great actor, with a gift for playing intellectuals. Indeed, aside from Detective Sergeant Fish (played by the great Abe Vigoda), Detective Sergeant Dietrich was my favourite character on Barney Miller. Landesberg not only made Dietrich intelligent, but also very cool and likeable. He proved one can be a bookworm and still be hip. Although best known for his role on Barney Miller, Mr. Landesberg was also a great comedian. He was exceeding funny, make left of centre observations on life and society, always delivered in his deadpan style. Steve Landesberg died all too young.