Friday, July 21, 2006

Jack Warden, RIP

The late character actor was one of those performers who got the job done with a minimum of fuss. In a long career, he tended to play those types as well. I always loved seeing him in action.

He had been an army paratrooper and a professional boxer before turning to acting. In the movies, he benefited from solid working relationships with Warren Beatty, receiving Oscar nods for Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait, and with Sidney Lumet. Their collaboration spanned almost four decades, beginning with 12 Angry Men. By coincidence, one of their best films together, The Verdict, was on TV tonight. I was lucky enough to catch a few minutes.

Warden appeared often on the small screen, winning an Emmy for Brian’s Song and – a childhood favorite – stepping in for Walter Matthau in the series version of The Bad News Bears.

But tonight, I choose to remember Warden’s performance as twin feuding automobile dealers in the great crass comedy Used Cars. I leave you with these wise words from Warden:

I’ll tell you something, this country is going to the dogs. You know, it used to be when you bought a politician, that son of a bitch stayed bought.