Prolific character actor Allan Rich, a once blacklisted civil rights activist, died on August 22 at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in New Jersey. He was 94 years old.
Rich was one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, appearing in 132 credited roles in a career that spanned from 1963 to 2014. His most notable films included Sidney Lumet’s Serpico, 1994’s Quiz Show, and Stephen Spielberg’s Amistad in 1997.
Born Benjamin Norman in 1926 and hailing from the Bronx, Rich debuted on Broadway in lifelong friend Milton Berle’s I’ll Take the High Road. He worked on numerous Broadway productions, including Darkness at Noon and The Emperor’s New Clothes, but was eventually unhirable after he ended up on the Hollywood Blacklist.
Rich was a civil rights activist, who was a member of the Theatrical Action Committee to Free Willie McGee, a convicted rapist who was sentenced to death in 1951. His advocacy led to being forced out of his burgeoning acting career.
After being out of work as an actor, he became a stockbroker, then opened the Allan Rich Galleries in New York, publishing lithographs by Salvador Dali and rediscovering George Hurrell.
Rich re-emerged in Hollywood during the sixties, but his first big break didn’t come until 1973’s Serpico. He was a regular guest star on popular television series All in the Family, Hawaii Five-O, Kojak, Happy Days, Magnum, P.I., and appeared in his last guest role as Lou in 2 Broke Girls.
He co-founded the non-profit organization We Care About Kids in 1994, and mentored acting students with his self-honed technique, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Rene Russo, Alan Thicke, and Sharon Stone.
Rich is survived by his children David and Marian, and two grandchildren Julia and Ruby.