Allan Arbus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Allan Arbus
Allan Franklin Arbus

(1918-02-15)February 15, 1918
New York City, U.S.
DiedApril 19, 2013(2013-04-19) (aged 95)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Actor, photographer
Years active1961–2000
Children3, including Doon and Amy Arbus

Allan Franklin Arbus (February 15, 1918 – April 19, 2013)[1] was an American actor and photographer. He was the former husband of photographer Diane Arbus. He is known for his role as psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman on the CBS television series M*A*S*H.

Early life[edit]

Arbus was born in New York City, to a Jewish family,[2] the son of stockbroker Harry Arbus and his wife Rose (née Goldberg).[3] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he first developed an interest in acting while appearing in a student play.[4]

Also a music lover, before becoming an actor, he was reportedly so taken by Benny Goodman's recordings that he took up playing the clarinet.[4]

Photography career[edit]

During the 1940s, Arbus became a photographer for the United States Army. In 1946, after he completed his military service, he and his first wife, photographer Diane Arbus (née Nemerov, whom he had married in 1941), started a photographic advertising business in Manhattan. Arbus was primarily known for advertising photography that appeared in Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other magazines, as well as the weekly newspaper advertising photography for Russeks, a Fifth Avenue department store owned by Diane's father.[5]

Edward Steichen's noted photo exhibition The Family of Man includes a photograph credited to the couple.[6][7] The Arbuses' professional partnership ended in 1956, when Diane quit the business; the couple formally separated three years later. Allan Arbus continued on as a solo photographer, but had given up the business to pursue an acting career by the time the couple divorced in 1969.[8][9]

Acting career[edit]

After the breakup of his first marriage and the dissolution of his business, Arbus moved to California in 1969 to pursue a new career in acting.[10] His new career took off after he landed the lead role in Robert Downey Sr.'s 1972 cult film, Greaser's Palace, in which he appears with Robert Downey, Jr., who would go on to star as Diane Arbus's muse in Fur. The 2006 Fur is a fictional account of the end of the Arbuses' marriage. Arbus also starred opposite Bette Davis in Scream, Pretty Peggy (1973), and was featured as Gregory LaCava in W.C. Fields and Me (1976).[11]

These roles led to his casting as Maj. Sidney Freedman on M*A*S*H. His work on M*A*S*H helped his career as a character actor, and he eventually appeared in more than seventy TV shows and movies. He appeared briefly in the 1973 film Cinderella Liberty as a drunken sailor; another 1973 film, Coffy (starring Pam Grier), featured Arbus as a drug dealer with strange sexual needs; in Damien: Omen II (1978), he played Pasarian, one of Damien's many victims in The Omen trilogy. In 1979, he portrayed a dance choreographer in The Electric Horseman.[12]

Arbus is far better known for his television work, which includes over forty-five titles, with works as recent as Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2000. Among Arbus's non-M*A*S*H work for television are guest and recurring roles in such television series as Law & Order, In the Heat of the Night, L.A. Law, Matlock, Starsky and Hutch, and Judging Amy.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Allan and Diane Arbus had two children, photographer Amy Arbus, and writer and art director Doon Arbus. The couple separated in 1959 and divorced in 1969, two years before Diane Arbus's suicide in 1971.[10][8]

Arbus married actress Mariclare Costello in 1977. The couple had one daughter, Arin Arbus, who is the associate artistic director at Theatre for a New Audience.[10]


Arbus died of congestive heart failure on April 19, 2013, in Los Angeles. He was 95.[1] He was cremated and his ashes given to his family.[13]

Selected TV and filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Type Notes
1961 Hey, Let's Twist! The doctor Film (Uncredited)[12]
1969 Putney Swope Mr. Bad News Film [12]
1971 The Christian Licorice Store Monroe (Smith) Film [12]
1972 Cisco Pike Sim Valensi Film [12]
1972 Greaser's Palace Jessy Film [12]
1973 The Young Nurses Krebs Film [12]
1973 Coffy Arturo Vitroni Film [12]
1973 Scream, Pretty Peggy Dr. Saks TV movie (ABC)[3]
1973 Cinderella Liberty Drunken sailor Film [12]
1974 The Odd Couple Ernie Ferguson (Hypnotist) TV Season 4, episode 15: "Cleanliness Is Next To Impossible"
1974 Law and Disorder Dr. Richter
1976 Hawaii Five-O Vince Maynard TV Season 8
1976 W.C. Fields and Me Gregory LaCava Film [12]
1977 Raid on Entebbe Eli Melnick TV movie (NBC)[3]
1978 Damien: Omen II Pasarian
1978 The Rockford Files Myron Katzin TV Episode: "Black Mirror"
1978 Wonder Woman Bleaker TV Episode: "The Girl from Ilandia"
1979 Americathon Moishe Weitzman, the 2nd Hebrab Film [12]
1979 The Electric Horseman Danny Film [12]
1980 The Last Married Couple in America Al Squib Film [12]
1981 Gangster Wars Goodman TV movie Also, as a TV miniseries, known as The Gangster Chronicles
1982 Quincy, M.E. Dr. Ellerick TV Episode: "For Love of Joshua"
1973–1983 M*A*S*H Major Sidney Freedman TV 12 Episodes
1984 The World of Don Camillo Christ (voice) Film In Italian and English
1985 Cagney & Lacey Arthur Stacey TV Episode: "Violation"
1985 Volunteers Albert Bardenaro Film [12]
1985 Hardcastle and McCormick Dr. Friedman TV Episode: "Do Not Go Gentle"
1986 Crossroads Dr. Santis Film [12]
1986 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (anthology) Dr. Andreas Hellman TV movie A Fighting Choice
1987 From the Hip Phil Ames Film [12]
1987 Spies Jano TV Episode: "Baby"
1987 Daniel and the Towers Simon 'Sam' Rodia TV movie (Wonder Works, PBS)[3]
1987 Ohara Sol Rostoff TV Episode: "The Intruders"
1987 Duet Mr. Coleman TV Episode: "Born, Bred and Buttered in Brooklyn"
1987 Matlock Peter Leoni TV Episode: "The Chef"
1989 L.A. Law Lawrence Stone TV Episode: I'm in the Nude for Love
1989 Matlock Aaron Mitchell TV Episode: "The Star"
1989 When He's Not a Stranger Judge Thomas J. Gray TV movie
1990 Hunter Norman Tate TV Episode: "Unfinished Business"
1991 Stat Hesh Cooper TV Episodes: "Safe Smuggling" & "Fantasy"
1991–1992 Brooklyn Bridge Dr. Schulman TV 3 episodes
1993 Law & Order Dominique Keith TV Episode: "Animal Instinct"
1993 Josh and S.A.M. Businessman on plane Film [12]
1992–1993 In The Heat of the Night Dr. Atwill TV Episodes: "Discovery" & "Little Girl Lost"
1994 Mad About You Albert TV Episode: "The Last Scampi"
1997 In Dark Places Dory
1998 L.A. Doctors Mr. Mitski TV Episode: "A Prayer for the living"
1999 NYPD Blue Seymore Epstein TV Episode: "Don't Meth with Me"
1999 Judging Amy Judge Fowler TV 3 episodes
2000 Curb Your Enthusiasm Uncle Nathan TV Episode: "The Group"
2016 Chief Zabu George Dankworth Film (In production from 1986, completed and released 2016[14])[15]


  1. ^ a b "MASH actor Allan Arbus dies at 95". BBC News. April 25, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  2. ^ Bloom, Nate (May 5, 2005). "Celebrity Jews". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d "Allan Arbus Biography".
  4. ^ a b Boehm, Mike (December 3, 2000). "Theater: Lured Back for One Last Great Role; Veteran actor Allan Arbus leaves a fulfilling retirement to take on an Arthur Miller part he found he couldn't resist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 14, 2009. Arbus says he yearned to be an actor from his early teens, when he had a moment of special clarity while playing in a student production at DeWitt Clinton High School.
  5. ^ Lubow, Arthur (September 14, 2003). "Arbus Reconsidered". The New York Times Magazine. [Diane Arbus feature article]. Archived from the original on June 6, 2022. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  6. ^ The Museum of Modern Art (May 3, 1955), "The Family of Man 1955-1956", MoMA Exhibition Master Checklist, p. 7, [Exhibition 0569], retrieved August 28, 2022 MoMA PDF document
  7. ^ Marshall, Peter. "Diane Arbus: Key Facts". Archived from the original on February 18, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Carlson, Michael (April 25, 2013). "Allan Arbus obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  9. ^ Lubow, Arthur (May 26, 2016). "How Diane Arbus Became 'Arbus'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 11, 2022. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c Trounson, Rebecca (April 23, 2013). "Allan Arbus dies at 95; played psychiatrist on 'MASH'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Allan Arbus". Rotten Tomatoes.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q American Film Institute. "Allan Arbus:16 Titles in Filmography (Cast)". AFI Catalog. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  13. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3rd ed.). p. 25. ISBN 9781476625997.
  14. ^ Kenny, Glenn (August 16, 2017). "Once a 'Mystery Science Theater' In-Joke, Now Playing Comedy Clubs". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 31, 2022. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  15. ^ "Chief Zabu". Rotten Tomatoes.

External links[edit]