For what feels like the millionth time, 2016 has taken an iconic entertainer away from us, as actor Jack Riley has passed away. Riley, best known for roles in the Rugrats franchise and The Bob Newhart Show, was 80 years old.
Years into retirement from a successful career that spanned decades and all forms of media, Jack Riley reportedly died of pneumonia and infection. A Cleveland native, Riley died in Los Angeles, according to Deadline, who spoke with his wife Ginger Lawrence, with whom he had two children.
Jack Riley's roots in television were firmly within comedy, as he came from a radio background where he had his own comically-inclined show. He moved west, hooked up with legendary funnyman Tim Conway - who later looped him into The Tim Conway Show - and got his foot in the door with appearances on shows like Occasional Wife, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and Hogan's Heroes (among many others) before landing the biggest break of his live-action career.
In The Bob Newhart Show, Jack Riley played Elliot Carlin, one of the many patients that Bob Newhart's psychiatrist saw on a daily basis. Mr. Carlin was as condescendingly neurotic as one gets, with a sense of humor that geared towards the cynical side, making him one of the show's stronger personalities. Strong enough to keep him on the show for all six seasons, with almost 50 appearances. He went on to reprise the role on both Alf and St. Elsewhere, oddly enough.
Riley's second biggest role was as that of Stu Pickles on the classic Nickelodeon series Rugrats. Stu was a fantastic representation of the then-modern father, and Riley's voicework was a big part of it. He not only voiced Stu for the flagship series, but also the multiple Rugrats feature films, the video games, and the spinoff All Grown Up. It's not likely he would have returned for the possible Rugrats revival - co-star Christine Cavanaugh also passed away not too long ago - but one would have hoped.
Outside of those two gigs, Jack Riley was in over 150 other projects of screens big and small. Most of his work came on television, and he popped up on just about every hit series throughout the 1970s-1990s: Barney Miller, Diff'rent Strokes, Night Court, Married with Children, Friends, Seinfeld, That 70s Show and many, many more. (He even appeared on an episode of Newhart.) His big screen work was pretty awesome as well, as he appeared in some of Mel Brooks' best films like Spaceballs and High Anxiety.
We here at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Jack Riley in their time of mourning. He'll always have a spot on our psychiatrist couch.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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