Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Godspeed Bruce Kirby

Bruce Kirby, the character actor who played the none-too-bright Sgt. Kramer on Columbo, died on January 24 2021 at the age of 96.

Bruce Kirby was born Bruno Giovanni on April 28 1925 in New York City. He studied acting under Lee Strasberg. He made his television debut in 1955, guest starring in the Goodyear Television Playhouse episode "Visit to a Small Planet." In the late Fifties he guest starred on the shows Omnibus and The Phil Silvers Show.

In the Sixties Mr. Kirby played the recurring role of Officer Kissell on the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?. He guest starred on the shows Brenner, The Defenders, The Nurses, The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, The Mothers-In-Law, Judd for the Defense, Night Gallery, Adam-12, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Ironside, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Room 222, and Hogan's Heroes. He made his film debut in Catch-22 in 1970. He made his debut on Broadway in Diamond Orchid in 1965.

In the Seventies Bruce Kirby played the recurring role of Sgt. Kramer on Columbo. He also played the recurring role of Sgt. Vine on Kojak and the regular role of Captain Sedford on Homes and Yoyo. He was also a regular on the short-lived sitcom Turnabout. He guest starred on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ironside, Bonanza, Longstreet, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Room 222, Monty Nash, The Doris Day Show, Me and the Chimp, Banacek, The Mod Squad, McCloud, The New Perry Mason, The Bob Newhart Show, Medical Center, Chopper One, Toma, Marcus Welby M.D., Chico and the Man, The Streets of San Francisco, M*A*S*H, Harry O, Delvecchio, Rafferty, The Rockford Files, Operation Petticoat, The Eddie Capra Mysteries, Alice, Barney Miller, Eischied, and Vega$. He appeared in the movies How to Frame a Figg (1971), J.W. Coop (1971), Another Nice Mess (1972), The Commitment (1976), Fyre (1979), and The Muppet Movie (1979).

In the Eighties he played Detective Schmidt on the short-lived TV series Shannon. He played Chief Edward Stanmore on Hunter. He was a regular on the short-lived show Anything But Love. He played D.A. Bruce Rogoff on L.A. Law. He guest starred on the shows Park Place, The Greatest American Hero, Code Red, Lou Grant, Tucker's Witch, Remington Steele, Hill Street Blues, Three's a Crowd, Stir Crazy, Night Court, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Punky Brewster, Ann Jillian, In the Heat of the Night, The Fanelli Boys, and Hull High. He appeared in the movies Sweet Dreams (1975), Stand By Me (1985), Armed and Dangerous (1986), Happy New Year (1987), Throw Momma From the Train (1987), The In Crowd (1988), Lady in White (1988), The Big Picture (1989), and Big Jim (1990). He appeared on Broadway in Death of a Salesman.

In the Nineties Bruce Kirby continued to appear on L.A. Law and had a recurring role on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. He guest starred on the shows Golden Girls; Reasonable Doubts; Blue Skies; Madman of the Purple; Bless This House; This Single Guy; One West Waikiki; Murphy Brown; Murder, She Wrote; Caroline in the City; The Sentinel; Tracy Takes On...; Players; and Chicago Hope. He appeared in the movies Another Time, Another Place (1992), Mr. Wonderful (1993), Rave Review (1994), Cadillac (1997), A Bold Affair (1998), and Vinnie and Angela's Beauty Salon and Funeral Parlor (2000).

In the Naughts Mr. Kirby guest starred on The West Wing, The Agency, The Sopranos, Numb3rs, and Scrubs. He appeared in the films Crash (2004) and 2:22 (2008).

When people remember Bruce Kirby, it will most likely be as a police officer, often one who was none too bright. After all, he was Officer Kissell on Car 54, Where Are You? and Sgt. Kramer on Columbo. He certainly had a flair for comedy. That having been said, he played many other sorts of roles throughout his career. In Stand by Me, he was market owner Mr. Quidacioluo. He played radio and television host Arthur Godfrey in Sweet Dreams. And while he often played cops, he also played doctors, lawyers, and taxi cab drivers. Regardless of what kind of role Bruce Kirby played, he was always guaranteed to deliver a good performance. It is little wonder that he was so prolific in his career.


Caftan Woman said...

96? That's a nice number of years. A lot of memories tied up with Mr. Kirby.

Jon said...

Mr. Kirby died this year, 2021, not 2020, correct?

I've seen & enjoyed many of his performances over the years. He outlived his acting son, Bruno, by many years.