January 18, 2020

Tony-Winning Actor Ron Leibman, 82

Ron Leibman, an award-winning and versatile actor whose more than five-decade career spanned Broadway, television and movies, died Dec. 6 in New York following complications from pneumonia. He was 82.

Leibman was born on Oct. 11, 1937, to Grace and Murray Leibman. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University, he returned to New York, where he was accepted into The Actor’s Studio. He appeared in productions of “A View From the Bridge,” “The Misanthrope,” “Uncle Vanya” and “End Game.” He also did guest spots on “The Dupont Show of the Week” and the soap opera “The Edge of Night.” 

His big break came in 1970 when he was cast in “Where’s Poppa,” a darkly comic movie directed by Carl Reiner and starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon. He next appeared with Segal in the comic heist movie, “The Hot Rock” (1972) followed by roles in “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1972) and “Norma Rae” (1979) alongside Sally Field. He won the lead actor Emmy for the title role in “Kaz,” (1978-79), a crime drama he created. In 1993 he won a best actor Tony for his portrayal of Roy Cohn in “Millenium Approaches,” the first part of “Angels in America.” 

Leibman married twice; first to actress Linda Lavin in 1969 (they divorced in 1981), and in 1983 to actress Jessica Walter, who survives him. He also is survived by his stepdaughter, Brooke Bowman. 

Field, who won the best actress Oscar for “Norma Rae,” tweeted after Leibman’s death: “Many of the best memories of my career have Ron Leibman in them. Thank you, Ron, for being my champion.”