Steve Landesberg

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For the American economist, see Steven Landsburg.
Steve Landesberg
Landesberg in 1979
Born (1936-11-23)November 23, 1936
New York City, New York, USA
Died December 20, 2010(2010-12-20) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Actor, comedian, voice actor
Years active 1971–2009
Spouse(s) Nancy Ross Landesberg (?-2010; his death; 1 child)

Steve Landesberg (November 23, 1936 – December 20, 2010) was an American actor, comedian, and voice actor known for his role as the erudite, unflappable police detective Arthur P. Dietrich on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller, for which he was nominated for three Emmy Awards.[1]


Landesberg was born November 23, 1936,[2] in New York City, New York, to a milliner mother and a grocery store-owner father.[3] He was part of improv group New York Stickball Team, which performed several shows that were aired on cable television shortly after Barney Miller went off the air.

Landesberg was a member of the cast of the 1974 CBS situation comedy Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. He made guest appearances on the TV shows The Rockford Files, Law & Order, Saturday Night Live, The Golden Girls, Ghost Whisperer, That 70's Show and Everybody Hates Chris. He starred in Starz's original show Head Case as Dr. Myron Finkelstein. He appeared in the motion pictures Wild Hogs, Leader of the Band, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Landesberg also co-starred in the TV movie Black Bart, a spin-off of Blazing Saddles.

Landesberg died from colon cancer on December 20, 2010, aged 74.[1] Initial reports of Mr. Landesberg’s death, relying on numerous biographical sources,[2] said he was 65.[4] He is survived by his widow Nancy Ross Landesberg and a daughter.


Landesberg is credited with the quote "Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense."[5]


In acknowledging that he was actually nine years older, his daughter Elizabeth said he had provided varying birth dates over the years. "He got kind of a late start in show business," she explained, "so he tried to straddle the generations. He fooled the whole world. People were surprised to think he was even 65."[1] Landesberg commented on the issue in a 1979 Washington Post profile for which he refused to give his age:[6]

"Let's just say I started late. It hurts you with casting directors.… If you tell them your age—let's say you're middle-aged—and they've never heard of you, they figure you're no good, or else they would've heard of you already. I tell my friends not to tell their ages."


  1. ^ a b c Hamilton Boardman (December 20, 2010). "Steve Landesberg, 'Barney Miller' Actor, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Steve Landesberg, an actor and comedian with a friendly and often deadpan manner who was best known for his role on the long-running sitcom “Barney Miller,” died in Los Angeles on Monday. He was 74. The cause was colon cancer, his daughter, Elizabeth, said. ... 
  2. ^ a b "Steve Landesberg and the question of age". Los Angeles Times. December 21, 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-11. Landesberg's birth date was listed as Nov. 23, 1945, in biographical material and on such websites as Because Landesberg lived in California, The Times was able to check his voter registration information. It showed his birth date as Nov. 23, 1936. The Times editorial research library also has access to information from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. One of our librarians was able to confirm the birth date on Landesberg's driver's license as Nov. 23, 1936.One thing we could not find was a mention of Landesberg's birth date in any newspaper stories written about him. Adding to our dilemma was a 1979 Washington Post profile in which Landesberg made it clear he didn't want anyone to know his age. 
  3. ^ "Steve Landesberg Film Reference biography". 
  4. ^ "'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' Actor -- Dead". TMZ. 
  5. ^ "Steve Landesberg Quotes". 
  6. ^ "Steve Landesberg dies; comic actor played intellectual detective on sitcom 'Barney Miller'". Los Angeles Times. December 21, 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-11. In the Washington Post profile, he wouldn't disclose his age. "Let's just say I started late," he said. 

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