Len Lesser

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Len Lesser
Leonard King Lesser

(1922-12-03)December 3, 1922
DiedFebruary 16, 2011(2011-02-16) (aged 88)
Years active1949–2011
Janice Burrell
(m. 1954; div. 1982)

Leonard King Lesser (December 3, 1922 – February 16, 2011) was an American character actor best known for his recurring role as Uncle Leo on Seinfeld.[1] He was also known for his role as Garvin on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Early life[edit]

Lesser was born in New York City in 1922. His father, a grocer, was a Jewish immigrant from Poland. Lesser received his bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1942 at the age of 19.[2] Lesser enlisted in the United States Army the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and served in the China Burma India Theater during World War II.[3] While there, he was promoted to sergeant.


Lesser was a prolific character actor in film, TV and on stage. He appeared on American television steadily since 1955 on programs such as That Girl, The Untouchables, Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, Kentucky Jones, Green Acres, Get Smart, Bat Masterson, Family Affair, The Monkees, Quincy, M.E., The Rockford Files, The Amazing Spider-Man, Mad About You, All in the Family, Boy Meets World, Smart Guy, My Favorite Martian, The Munsters, and Castle. He appeared in a variety of films such as Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Blood and Lace (1971), Dirty Little Billy (1972), Papillon (1973), Truck Stop Women (1974), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Supervan (1977), Moonshine County Express (1977), Ruby (1977), Death Hunt (1981), Take This Job and Shove It (1981), Grandmother's House (1988) and Baadasssss! (2003). He also guest starred on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode "Tick Tock Hilda's Clock."[4]

Later years[edit]

Lesser had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Garvin, a friend of Frank Barone, who always lifted his arms in excitement whenever he saw Ray (just as Lesser did in his recurring role on Seinfeld as "Uncle Leo" whenever he saw his nephew Jerry). He also appeared in Jeff Seymour's stage production of Cold Storage at the University of Toronto's George Ignatieff Theatre.[5]


On February 16, 2011, Lesser died of cancer-related pneumonia[6] in Burbank, California, at the age of 88.[7]

After learning of Lesser's death, Jerry Seinfeld said of him,

Len was one of our favorites. We always loved having him on the show. I'll never forget when Uncle Leo was in prison and tattooed "Jerry Hello" on his knuckles. He was a very sweet guy.

Another Seinfeld castmate, Jason Alexander, tweeted,

Thanks to all of you for your kind remarks re: Len Lessor [sic]. Tonight was the opening of Gigi at my beloved Reprise Theater Company and I've only returned at this late hour to hear the news. ... "Hellooo" Uncle Leo. And goodbye. Sleep well. Much love. Jason.[8]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Uncle Leo". seinfeldonline.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce. "Len Lesser, Uncle Leo on 'Seinfeld', Dies at 88", The New York Times. 2011-02-17.
  3. ^ Obituary, latimes.com, February 17, 2011.
  4. ^ Len Lesser at IMDb
  5. ^ "First Person: Len Lesser on Uncle Leo's new life". National Post.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Allen, Floyd (February 18, 2011). "Len Lesser dies at 88, due to cancer-related pneumonia". ibtimes.com. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
  7. ^ Seinfeld's 'Uncle Leo' dead at 88, cnn.com, February 16, 2011.
  8. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (February 17, 2011). "Uncle Leo's 'Seinfeld' Scenes: Jerry Remembers His Favorite". Huffington Post.

External links[edit]