Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Isobel Lewis

Michael Lerner death: Oscar-nominated actor and Elf star dies aged 81

Scott Gries/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Elf star Michael Lerner has died aged 81.

The Oscar-nominated actor, best known for his roles in films such as Godzilla and Barton Fink, died on Saturday (8 April) night.

The news was announced on Instagram by his nephew Sam Lerner, an actor in his own right who appears in The Goldbergs, on Sunday (9 April).

Sharing a series of old photos of Lerner, Sam wrote that the family had “lost a legend last night”.

“It’s hard to put into words how brilliant my uncle Michael was, and how influential he was to me,” Sam wrote. “His stories always inspired me and made me fall in love with acting. He was the coolest, most confident, talented guy, and the fact that he was my blood will always make me feel special.

“Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was – in the best way. I’m so lucky I got to spend so much time with him, and we’re all lucky we can continue to watch his work for the rest of time. RIP Michael, enjoy your unlimited Cuban cigars, comfy chairs, and endless movie marathon.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941, Lerner made his on-screen debut on a local news programme when he was just 13.

He originally hoped to teach English, but fell in love with acting while studying at college in Brooklyn and received a Fulbright Scholarship to train at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda).

During his time in London, he shared a flat with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, making an appearance in a number of Ono’s experimental films in the late Sixties before moving to Los Angeles in 1969.

Throughout his years in LA, Lerner appeared on a number of hit TV shows, such as The Brady Bunch and M*A*S*H.

Lerner (left) in 2012 with Sean Bean (Getty Images)

​​In 1991, following his role in Harlem Nights, Lerner received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for playing fictional film producer Jack Lipnick in the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink.

Following the turn of the century, roles followed in Elf, – where he plays James Caan’s boss Fulton – X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Glee.

In 2002, he appeared opposite Madonna in the West End production of David Williamson’s Up For Grabs.

Lerner’s last role came in 2019, in the mockumentary Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.