Monday, June 19, 2017

Godspeed Stephen Furst

Stephen Furst, who played Flounder in the classic film National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), Dr. Elliot Axelrod on the classic TV series St. Elsewhere, and Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, died on June 16 2016 at the age of 63. The cause was complications from diabetes.

Stephen Furst was born Stephen Nelson Feuerstein on May 8 1954 in Norfolk, Virginia. He took an interest in acting while still young. By the time he was in high school he was already acting in local plays. Mr. Furst studied drama at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mr. Furst made his television debut in an episode of Movin' On in 1975. He made his film debut in American Raspberry in 1977. It was the following year that he appeared as Flounder in National Lampoon's Animal House, catapulting him to fame. In the late Seventies he appeared in the films Take Down (1979), Swim Team (1979), Scavenger Hunt (1979), Getting Wasted (1980), Midnight Madness (1980), and The Unseen (1980). He reprised his role as Flounder on the short lived TV series Delta House, which was based on the film Animal House. He guest starred on Family and CBS Afternoon Playhouse.

In the Eighties Stephen Furst played the role of the awkward and often put-upon Dr. Elliot Axelrod on St. Elsewhere. He also played Father Gabriel "Gabe" Podmaninski on the short-lived show Have Faith. He guest starred on such TV shows as Newhart, CHiPs, The Jeffersons, Faerie Tale Theatre, MacGyver, Night Court, and Murder, She Wrote. Mr. Furst appeared in the TV movie The Day After. He appeared in such films as Silent Rage (1982), Class Reunion (1982), Up the Creek (1984), and The Dream Team (1989).

In the Ninties Stephen Furst appered as Vir Cotto on the science fiction series Babylon 5. He starred on the sitcom Misery Loves Company. He provided the voices of Fanboy on Freakazoid!, Hathi on Jungle Cubs, and Booster on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. He guest starred on Gabriel's Fire, Dream On, Nurses, Melrose Place, Chicago Hope, and Diagnois Murder. He appeared in such films as Cops n Roberts (1995) and Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1995).

In the Naughts Mr. Furst appeared in such films as Title to Murder (2001), Echos of Enlightenment (2001), Sorority Boys (2002), Searching for Haizmann (2003), Living in Walter's World (2003), Autopsy Room Four (2003), Wild Roomies (2004), Everything's Jake (2006), and Seven Days of Grace (2006).  He guest starred on Scrubs and She Spies.

While Stephen Furst came to fame through his portrayal of Flounder in Animal House, he was talented enough that he was able to play many memorable characters over the years. Many probably know him best as Dr. Axelrod, the competent but awkward and frequently disrespected physician on St. Elsewhere. Yet others might remember him best as Vir Cotto, the humble, kind-hearted Centraui low noble who eventually became his people's prime minister on Babylon 5. Still yet others might remember him best as the voice of Fanboy on Freakazoid!, the comic book and superhero obssessed youth who wanted very badly to be a sidekick. While most of Stephen Furst's characters were lovable losers, he could and did play other sorts of characters, His role in The Unseen is unlike anything else he ever played  (I can't say more without spoiling the film).  In Midnight Madness he played a character, who unlike Flounder, Dr. Axelrod, or Vir Cotto, wasn't a bit lovable. Harold was an insufferable snob and essentially the antagonist of the movie. Stephen Furst was an extremely talented actor who had a particular gift for comedy and could play drama just as well.

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