Jason Wingreen dead: All in the Family, Star Wars actor was 95
His son, Ned, confirmed the news to EW in a statement. “He died at home in Los Angeles on Dec. 25, 2015 after a brief illness. He is survived by his one son (me) and two grandchildren, and his sister Harriet Wingreen (the former NY Philharmonic pianist) and her family.”
Wingreen has a bevy of acting credits to his name, but the one from All in the Family “allowed [him] to retire,” he remarked to The Classic TV History Blog in 2010. Years later in an interview with StarTrek.com, which mostly pertained to his guest starring role of Dr. Linke in Star Trek: The Original Series, he explained his All in the Family gig began as a one-off.
“It was the last episode of the sixth year of All in the Family,” he said. “It was about an argument between Archie and his wife, because he doesn’t take her out anymore. So she says she’s going to go out on the town on her own. She winds up at Kelsey’s. She shouldn’t be recognized by Kelsey or anybody because of the story, so they needed to send Kelsey to the Catskills for the weekend, and they needed somebody to take over the place.”
Wingreen’s friend Paul Bogart directed the episode and recommended the actor for the role. “They broke for their hiatus and when the next season started, I got a call from my agent. He said they wanted me back. So they got me back…for seven more years. And the poor guy who had to take a vacation lost his job.”
Wingreen’s talents also extended across the big-screen space. After making his movie debut in The Bravados in 1958, he went on to featured roles in They Only Kill Their Masters, Marlowe, Airplane!, and his minor but memorable role in The Empire Strikes Back.
The Brooklyn-born actor would eventually be replaced by Temuera Morrison as the voice of Boba Fett, but Wingreen said it changed his life. “I’ve signed a lot of photos of Boba Fett. I was living a quiet, peaceful, unencumbered life until that news broke, and when the news came out in a Star Wars magazine, for which I’d done an interview, the letters just never stopped.”
This post has been updated with a statement from Wingreen’s son.