Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fyvush Finkel Passes On

Fyvush Finkel, well known for his performances in Yiddish theatre and for appearing on the TV shows Picket Fences and Boston Public, died on August 14 2016 at the age of 93.

Fyvush Finkel was born Philip Finkel  in Brooklyn, New York on October 9 1922. He made his stage debut when he was only 9 years old. He had a thriving career as a child actor in the Yiddish theatres of the Lower East Side of Manhattan until he was around 14 or 15 years old. His voice having changed, young Mr. Finkel began attending a vocational school with the goal of taking up a trade. Instead, after graduating high school, he began acting as part of a Jewish theatre's stock company in Pittsburgh. Mr. Finkel found steady work in Yiddish theatre until the Fifties when ethnic theatres as a whole began dying off.

Fyvush Finkel made his film debut in 1950 in Monticello, Here We Come. In 1964 he made his Broadway debut in Fiddler on the Roof. He made his television debut in an episode of Kojak in 1977. In 1981 he appeared in a revival of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway. In the Eighties he appeared in the films Off Beat (1986), Seize the Day (1986), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986), and Q & A (1990). He appeared in on miniseries Evergreen. He appeared on Broadway one last time in a revival of  Cafe Crown in 1989.

It was in 1992 that Fyvush Finkel began playing irascible lawyer Douglas Wambaugh on the TV show Picket Fences. He remained with the show its entire run and even guest starred as Wambaugh on the show Chicago Hope. Later in the decade he was a regular on the short lived revival of Fantasy Island and the TV series Boston Public. In the Nineties he guest starred on the show Early Edition. He appeared in the films Mobsters (1991), The Pickle (1993), For Love or Money (1993), Nixon (1995), and The Crew (2000). In 1991 he put together a pastiche of Yiddish theatre called Finkel's Follies that ran Off Broadway.

In the Naughts he guest starred on the shows The Wedding Bells, Harry's Law, and Blue Bloods. He appeared in the films The Um (2008),  A Serious Man (2009), and The Other Men in Black (2013).

Fyvush Finkel was a fine actor and performer. He was certainly gifted with a good sense of humour. He had perfect comic timing, a knack for delivering lines, and a knack for very funny one-liners. This made Mr. Finkel perfect for comic or semi-comic roles, and he was at home playing anything from cantankerous attorney Wambaugh on Picket Fences to a character who may or may not be a dybbuk in A Serious Man. Even when he appeared only briefly on screen, Fyvush Finkel was memorable.

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