Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RIP Bill Erwin, 1914-2010

Thirty years ago, in the 1980 film Somewhere In Time, Bill Erwin was already playing a very old man. The idea was, he was the current-day version of Arthur, the kid whom Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour knew at the turn of the century.

Some people just seem to make a career out of playing old people, and thus seem to live forever; remember the still-kicking Angela Lansbury playing Laurence Harvey's mother in The Manchurian Candidate 48 years ago? (even though she was only 3 years his senior?!)

Erwin is probably best remembered for his guest-starring spot on Seinfeld, as old man Sid Fields, Jerry's elder charge who ends up biting Kramer in a misunderstanding over his record album collection (remember those?) He continued to turn up on TV for more than another decade, a relic nearly of the Edwardian age who would always make me both laugh and marvel: he's still alive?!

In this 1993 clip, Erwin, who died last week at 96, was a mere lad of 79 -- and became part of the sitcom's extended cast of characters who will live on in syndication for a long time to come.

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