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Alan Arkin dead: Michael Douglas pays emotional tribute to 'Komisky Method 'costar

Michael joined John Cusack and other stars in remembering the 'Little Miss Sunshine' star who has died at 89

Alan Arkin
Justin Ravitz
Justin Ravitz - New York
Editorial Director, U.S.New York
Updated: 30 June 2023
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Rest in peace, Alan Arkin. The actor, beloved for his Oscar-winning turn in 2006's Little Miss Sunshine and a very long list of film and theater performances, has died at age 89. 

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The veteran star's family told People in a statement: "Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed."

Alan Arkin michael douglas
Alan Arkin was Michael Douglas' co-star

In just 14 minutes of screentime in Sunshine, Alan stole the show — and nabbed the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award — as exasperated family patriarch Edwin Hoover in the family road trip comedy. 

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More recently, he starred with Michael Douglas in Netflix's series The Kominsky Method, earning multiple nominations. He earned his fourth and final Oscar nomination in Ben Affleck's 2012 historical drama Argo. 

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Michael was among the stars to pay tribute to Alan. "Today we lost a wonderful actor whose intelligence, sense of comedy and consummate professionalism over the past 70 years has left an indelible mark on our industry," Michael, 78, wrote in an Instagram caption. "My experience of working with Alan were some of my most memorable. He will be deeply missed. Sincere condolences to his wife, Suzanne, and his family."

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Added Patton Oswalt with a collage of pics via Twitter: "Did ANYONE have the range Alan Arkin had? Hilarious, sinister, insane, tragic. No mood he couldn’t live in. RIP."

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Mad About You star Paul Reiser also weighed in. "A world without Alan Arkin is …not so great. I’ve loved this man from the moment he came on screen in “The Russians Are Coming..” (“Whitaker Walt!l) I was 8. Getting to know him - and getting a laugh out of him - is a highlight of my life. RIP dear friend."

Alan's Grosse Point Blank and America's Sweetheart costar John Cusack recalled an incident in which Alan challenged studio executives to make last-minute changes to a script. "I said, you have Alan Arkin wanting to personalize and deepen this comedy we’re making," he recalled himself telling execs. "He can say whatever the [expletive] he wants - sit back watch and feel lucky - please ."

Another costar, Michael McKean, tweeted "When I was a young actor people wanted to know if I wanted to be a serious actor or a funny one. I'd answer 'Which kind is Alan Arkin?" and shared a throwback pic of them onset in 2003's And Pancho Villa as Himself.  "Rest in peace, Alan. Nobody better, ever.

Alan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1934, and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was still a child — but arguably held onto that NYC accent and sensibility, parlaying it into countless performances, many of them tinged with biting comedy, in film, TV, and theater. His interest in the arts began early, and he took acting classes as a kid.

Alan Arkin is honored with a Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Alan Arkin is honored with a Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Following an incomplete stint at Bennington College in Vermont and work with a folk group called The Tarriers (they scored a top 5 hit with "The Banana Boat Song"), Alan relocated to Chicago in 1960, and honed his comedy chips with the legendary improvisational troupe Second City. By 1961, he'd moved on to Broadway in a Second City-themed show. He won his Tony Award just two years later in Enter Laughing.

Alan Arkin during 18th International Palm Springs Film Festival Awards Gala
Alan Arkin during 18th International Palm Springs Film Festival Awards Gala

His big-screen breakthrough came in 1967 via Norman Jewison's comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming. Other notable onscreen turns, among many, include the Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark,  The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, Gattaca, America’s Sweethearts, Grosse Point Blank, Mother Night, The Pentagon Papers and several Pink Panther films, where he'd replaced Peter Sellers as Inspector Closeau.

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He is survived by his wife Suzanne and sons Adam, Matthew and Anthony Arkin; Adam is himself a well-known actor and director seen in shows like Chicago Hope, 8 Simple Rules and Sons of Anarchy.

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