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Barney Martin
Barney Martin 77.jpg
Martin in the Tony Randall Show (1977)
Born (1923-03-03)March 3, 1923
New York City, U.S.
Died March 21, 2005(2005-03-21) (aged 82)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1956–2000

Barney Martin (March 3, 1923 – March 21, 2005) was an American actor, best known for playing Morty Seinfeld, father of Jerry, on the sitcom Seinfeld (1991-1998). He also played supporting roles in Mel Brooks's The Producers (1967), and the Dudley Moore comedy Arthur (1981). He also originated the role of Amos Hart (Mr. Cellophane) in the 1976 Broadway production of Chicago.

Early life

Born in New York City, Martin served in the U.S. Army Air Force as a navigator during the Second World War before working as an NYPD officer for twenty years, working his way up to detective. He got his start as a comedian while still a police officer, providing deputy commissioners with humorous presentations.

Martin once commented that many Jewish Seinfeld fans told him how much his character reminded them of their fathers. Martin himself was from an Irish Catholic family.


Entering show business as a stand-in for Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners in 1955–56 and as a part-time writer for Steve Allen in the 1950s, he was discovered by Mel Brooks, who cast him in The Producers. The next year, he played the role of Hank in Charly. He went on to act in dozens of films, including the role of Liza Minnelli's unemployed father in the hit 1981 film Arthur and its 1988 sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks.

Tony Randall Show
Martin with Tony Randall and Rachel Roberts in the Tony Randall Show in 1976

On television, he appeared in two episodes of The Odd Couple, once in a very early episode as an irate fellow juror infuriated with Felix Unger's pesty personality and four years later as a fellow subway train passenger. Shortly after, Martin co-starred with Tony Randall for two seasons in The Tony Randall Show as court reporter Jack Terwilliger. Throughout the run of this show, he had second billing only to Randall himself. In 1979, he was cast as the title character in Norman Lear's final TV series concept, McGurk: A Dog's Life. Martin was cast to play a character similar to Lear's earlier creation, Archie Bunker, but played as a dog. Only the pilot was completed. In 1990, he co-starred with Valerie Bertinelli and Matthew Perry in the CBS sitcom Sydney. In 1987, he appeared in the pilot episode of 21 Jump Street as Johnny Depp's partner. In 1993, Martin played the recurring role of "Pete Peters" on the Don Rickles sit-com Daddy Dearest. Although he was the second actor to portray Jerry's dad, Morty, in the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld, he is the one most associated with the role, as the first actor, Phil Bruns, only appeared in one episode.

In 1975, Martin originated the role of Amos Hart in the Broadway musical Chicago, in which he introduced the song "Mr. Cellophane". He appeared in many more musicals during his career, most notably South Pacific, The Fantasticks, and How Now, Dow Jones. Much of Martin's work has been in television, where he had a long career as a character actor. He played a gangster called the "Cheese Man" in a Golden Girls episode. He played a love interest for Thelma Harper in the Hawaii episode of Mama's Family, and he played the father of Frank Fontana on Murphy Brown. He appeared in an episode of Full House as Ranger Roy, the host of a popular kids' TV show. In 1981, he portrayed Ralph Marolla, father of Liza Minnelli's character in the film Arthur and the following year appeared on Barney Miller in the episode "Obituary".

In 1990, Martin was cast as the fictional father of Jerry Seinfeld, Morty Seinfeld in the sitcom Seinfeld. His first appearance was in Season 2's "The Pony Remark". Martin replaced Phil Bruns who first portrayed the character in his first appearance in Season 1's "The Stake Out". He took on the role upon showrunners Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld deciding they wanted the character of Morty Seinfeld to be harsher, as they thought Bruns was too laid-back for the character. He retained this role until the series ended in 1998.


On March 21, 2005, he died of bladder cancer in Studio City, Los Angeles, California, at age 82. He was cremated, and his ashes were returned to his family.



Year Title Role Notes
1956 The Wrong Man Juror Uncredited
1959 Odds Against Tomorrow Car Accident Driver Uncredited
1961 The Young Doctors Bus Driver Uncredited
1963 Love with the Proper Stranger Sidney Uncredited
1967 The Producers Göring
1968 Charly Hank
1970 Lola Doorman – Efficient but Fat
1978 Movie Movie Motorcycle Cop (segment "Baxter's Beauties of 1933")
1979 Hot Stuff Kiley
1981 Arthur Ralph Marolla
1982 Benson Frank Cooper
1988 Mama's Family Billy Field
1988 Arthur 2: On the Rocks Ralph Marolla
1989 Deadly Weapon Mayor Bigelow
1992 Hero Court Official Uncredited


Year Title Role Notes
1955 The Phil Silvers Show Police Officer Episode: "The Boxer"
1957 To Tell the Truth Imposter Portraying Jack Bothwell (Freckles from "Our Gang") Episode : Aired Nov 26, 1957
1961 Naked City Bartender Episode: "Landscape with Dead Figures"
1963 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Rupert Harney Episode: "Blood Bargain"
1963 Car 54, Where Are You? Fr. Charlie Donovan Episode: "See you at the Bar Mitzvah"
1970-74 The Odd Couple Man #3 / Mr. Moss 2 episodes
1976-78 The Tony Randall Show Jack Terwillinger 38 episodes
1978 Happy Days G.W. Burch Episode: "Fonzie for the Defense"
1982 Benson Frank Cooper 2 episodes
1983-86 Trapper John, M.D. Fella / Herbert Mitchell 2 episodes
1983 Hill Street Blues Ben Seltzer 2 episodes
1984 Night Court Bum Episode: "The Former Harry Stone"
1984 St. Elsewhere Mr. Duffy 2 episodes
1985 The Twilight Zone Marty Episode: "Dealer's Choice"
1985 Diff'rent Strokes Bill Perkins Episode: "Blue Collar Drummond"
1986 Highway To Heaven Barney Episode: "Basinger's New York"
1986 Punky Brewster Dr. Evans 2 episodes
1987 21 Jump Street Edison Coulter / Charlie Donegan 2 episodes
1987-89 Murder, She Wrote Lt. Timothy Hanratty 2 episodes
1989 Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog Rudy Phillips Television movie
1991 Full House Ranger Roy Episode: "The Legend of Ranger Joe"
1991 Golden Girls Karl "Cheeseman" Moran Episode: "Witness"
1991-92 Life Goes On Stan Baker 5 episodes
1991–98 Seinfeld Morty Seinfeld 20 episodes
1993 Daddy Dearest Pete Peters 13 episodes
1993 The Wonder Years Old Kevin 1 episode
2000–01 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Ambassador Major Voice; 2 Episodes


Year Title Role Notes
1962 All American Various roles Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway
1967 How Now, Dow Jones Bradbury Lunt-Fontanne Theater, Broadway
1974 All Over Town Det. Peterson Booth Theatre, Broadway
1975 Chicago Amos Hart 46th Street Theatre, Broadway
1980 The Roast Sid Ball Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway

See also

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