11 September 1934|
Grays, Essex, England, UK
|Died||26 January 2012
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Kidney failure|
|Notable work(s)||Young Frankenstein,
Army of Darkness,
The Lost World: Jurassic Park,
|Television||Birds of Prey,
Wizards of Waverly Place,
Star Wars: The Clone Wars,
Green Lantern: The Animated Series,
(?-2012; his death)
Ian Abercrombie (11 September 1934 – 26 January 2012) was an English actor.
Abercrombie was known for playing Alfred Pennyworth in Birds of Prey. He appeared as Elaine Benes's boss, Justin Pitt, during the sixth season of Seinfeld, and Rupert Cananaugh, Ian Hainsworth's butler, in Desperate Housewives.
Early Life 
Abercrombie was born on 11 September 1934 in Grays, Essex, England. He began his theatrical career during the Blitz in World War II. After his footwork years during which he earned Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in stage dancing, he performed in London, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands. He moved to the United States aged 17. He made his American stage debut in 1955 in a production of Stalag 17 with Jason Robards and Jules Munshin. Many plays in summer stock, regional and off-Broadway followed in a variety of theatrical offerings, from revues to Shakespeare (in a particularly low period, he worked as a magician's assistant for $10 a performance).
In 1957, he was drafted into the US Army and stationed in Germany as part of Special Services, where he directed the continental premiere of Separate Tables. In the United States, he went to California for a backers' audition, which went nowhere but he began a long film and television career. He received awards[clarification needed] for his work in Sweet Prince with Keir Dullea; Teeth N'smiles; A Doll's House with Linda Purl; and The Arcata Promise, opposite Anthony Hopkins. He received acclaim for the one-man show, Jean Cocteau - A Mirror Image.
He shared two roles with actor Clive Revill. Revill was Alfred Pennyworth in early episodes of Batman (1992), a role Abercrombie played in the television series Birds of Prey (2002). Revill was also the first actor to play Palpatine, in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Abercrombie portrayed the character in the animated Clone Wars series and film. He is the second actor with the name Ian to portray Palpatine: The first was Ian McDiarmid who played Palpatine in 4 of the 6 Star Wars films as well as Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron.
Abercrombie was known to cult film audiences as Wiseman in the comedy horror film Army of Darkness (1993). He guest-starred in many television series such as Seinfeld, The Nanny, Wizards of Waverly Place, Airwolf, Babylon 5, and NewsRadio. He portrayed Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious in the film The Clone Wars (2008) and reprised his role as Palpatine/Sidious in the television adaption from Seasons 1-5 and its two spin-off video games: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes and Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels. On radio he was heard in several productions of the Hollywood Theater of the Ear. Abercrombie voiced Ambrose in 2011's Oscar-nominated Rango. He also portrayed Ganthet in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, completing his work on the latest episode of the Cartoon Network show just before his death.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars 
Ian portrayed Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious in the Animated television series "The Clone Wars" from Seasons 1-5, and its two spin-off video games, Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Republic Heroes and Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels. Supervising Director Dave Filoni said that Ian was very excited that Darth Sidious finally was going to be seen in person and not as a hologram anymore; during Celebration VI Filoni also mentioned that before his passing, Ian did record for most of Season 5 as both characters, but did not finish. In February 2013 it was announced that actor Tim Curry was going to be the next voice of Palpatine, beginning with the Season 5 finale, The Wrong Jedi..
Abercrombie died in Hollywood, California on 26 January 2012 at age 77, from kidney failure. During Celebration VI (23-26 August) there was a show called Vocal Stars of the Clone Wars hosted by James Arnold Taylor and it included cast members Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker and Tom Kane. They all dedicated the show to Ian and stated that they miss him deeply.
- Young Frankenstein (1974) (uncredited)
- The Prisoner of Zenda (1977)
- Fantasy Island (1977)
- Battlestar Galactica (1978)
- Sextette (1978)
- Journey's End (1983)
- The Ice Pirates (1984)
- Kicks (1985)
- Firewalker (1986)
- Last Resort (1986)
- Warlock (1988)
- Catacombs (1988)
- Tales from the Crypt (1990)
- Zandalee (1991)
- Puppet Master III (1992)
- Twin Peaks (1992)
- The Public Eye (1992)
- Army of Darkness (1993)
- Addams Family Values (1993)
- Clean Slate (1994)
- Babylon 5 (1994)
- Days of our Lives (1997–2002)
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
- MouseHunt (1997)
- Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000)
- Birds of Prey (2002) (as Alfred Pennyworth)
- Inland Empire (2006)
- Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006)
- Wizards of Waverly Place (2007–2012) (as Professor Crumbs; recurring role)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2013) (as Palpatine / Darth Sidious) (His death is honored at the beginning of the episode, "The Lawless" - S5E16.)
- The Next Train Home (2011)
- Rango (2011)
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2012) (as Ganthet; recurring role) (His death is honored at the end of the episode, "Regime Change" - S1E10.)
- "The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- Barnes, Mike (27 January 2012). "Ian Abercrombie, Elaine's Boss on 'Seinfeld', Dies at 77". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Minovitz, Ethan (28 January 2012). "Ian Abercrombie, 77, was boss Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Ian Abercrombie at the Internet Movie Database
- Ian Abercrombie at Find a Grave
- Ian Abercrombie at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Ian Abercrombie at Wookieepedia (a Star Wars wiki)