philip baker hall
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Legendary character actor Philip Baker Hall dies at 90

Hall appeared in nearly 200 film and television roles throughout his five-decade spanning career.

Philip Baker Hall, the legendary character actor with nearly 200 film and television credits to his name, died on Sunday night at the age of 90.

Though Hall was perhaps best known for playing library cop Lt. Joe Bookman on Seinfeld, he starred in a number of feature film from acclaimed directors such as Robert Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson — the latter of whom he met working on PBS movie, where Anderson was employed as a production assistant.

He would go on to star in Anderson’s 1996 directorial debut Hard Eight, as well as Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), and the director’s 1993 short film Cigarettes & Coffee.

Hall’s death was announced by his longtime friend and neighbor, Los Angeles Times sportswriter Sam Farmer.

“My neighbor, friend, and one of the wisest, most talented and kindest people I’ve ever met, Philip Baker Hall, died peacefully last night,” Farmer tweeted. “He was surrounded by loved ones. The world has an empty space in it.”

Another of Hall’s notable roles included Altman’s 1984 film Secret Honor, adapted from the one-man play he also starred, in which he portrayed disgraced U.S. president Richard Nixon.

Yet, it was the role on Seinfeld for which Hall received the most attention.

“It’s been over 20 years since we shot that episode,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014. “And I still can’t go out in public for very long before someone says, ‘My god, it’s Bookman!’ Or: ‘Are you Bookman? I returned that library book, I swear!’ It’s not just in New York or L.A.; it’s happened in a mall in the Midwest or even other countries where they air the show. The guy made an impression.”

Some of Hall’s more recent recurring roles included Walt Kleezak, the crotchety neighbor on Modern Family who begrudgingly befriends Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould) and television host Hank Hippopopalous on Bojack Horseman.

He also appeared in a touching 2017 episode of HBO’s Room 104 alongside actress Ellen Geer, in which an elderly couple relive their first night together.

Hall is survived by his second wife Holly Wolfle, whom he married in 1981, and four daughters.


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Stacey Ritzen
Stacey Ritzen is a Philadelphia-based reporter with 15 years of experience covering pop culture, entertainment, web culture, and news. She has previously worked for outlets including Uproxx, Pajiba, Daily Dot, and more.