Shelley Berman, who achieved big fame as a stand-up in the ’50s and ’60s and more recently played Larry David’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm, died Friday at age 92 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to his website.
The Chicago-raised Berman began his career in acting, studying with Uta Hagen and at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago before transitioning into improv and comedy with the Compass Players, which served as a precursor to Second City. Berman was famous for telling his jokes while sitting on a bar stool and simulating a one-sided phone call. He would make seven comedy albums, including 1959’s Inside Shelley Berman, which became not only the first comedy album to achieve gold certification, but the first non-music album to win a Grammy.
His big-screen résumé includes roles in The Best Man, Divorce American Style, Every Home Should Have One, Meet the Fockers, and The Holiday. On the small screen, he popped up everywhere from The Twilight Zone to Bewitched to Night Court to Friends to The King of Queens. Berman had recurring roles on L.A. Law and Boston Legal, as well as Curb Your Enthusiasm. He appeared in 13 episodes of Curb from 2002 to 2009 as the widowed Nat David who didn’t immediately tell Larry that Larry’s mother died right away because he “didn’t want to bother him.” Berman was nominated for his performance on the show in 2008.
His last TV guest spot was on an episode of Hawaii Five-0 in 2012.