When I first heard the sad news that character actor Jack Warden passed away, at the age of 85 last week, I was tempted to blog something. And then, I put if off. But, I just keep thinking about how much I really did love this actor. Now, I fully admit there was a period when he was obviously just paying the bills (somewhere between Problem Child and Problem Child 3). But there was a period of about 15 years when Jack Warden was one of the gods of the modern character actors. There’s, of course, his most popular work (with Warren Beatty) in Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait. But, he was obviously a strong presence in Brian’s Song, Being There, All the President’s Men, Used Cars, and The Verdict. I even remember watching his short-lived, but fantastic, TV series, Still Crazy Like A Fox. Hell, what other actor could have played Morris Buttermaker in the even shorter-lived Bad News Bears TV show?
Warden was one of the last, great character actors, a man who never upstaged any of the heavyweights surrounding him. It was enough for him to be a part of any ensemble. He played his parts like the only guy in the room who knew what the hell was going on. He played every part like the guy with all the answers, yet enough patience and wisdom to keep quiet until it was time to burst. And when he burst, few actors could match his level of bewildered temper tantrum. He was great. He was even the only good thing about those damn Problem Child movies.