Herb Edelman was born in Brooklyn, New York. Before becoming an actor, Edelman studied to become a veterinarian at Cornell University, but left during his first year. After serving in the US Army as an announcer for Armed Forces Radio, he enrolled in Brooklyn College as a Theater student, but eventually dropped out. He later worked as a hotel manager and as a taxicab driver. One of his fares was director Mike Nichols, who in 1963 cast Edelman in his breakthrough Broadway role, as the bewildered telephone repairman in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Herb Edelman reprised his role in the 1967 film version (starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda), and appeared in the movie versions of Simon’s The Odd Couple (1968) and California Suite (1978). He also appeared in an installment of the Japanese movie series Otoko wa Tsurai yo in 1979. He remains best known for his three decades in television, usually as a co-star, recurring character, or guest star on The Golden Girls, That Girl, Love, American Style, The Streets of San Francisco, Maude, Cannon, Welcome Back, Kotter, Kojak, Fantasy Island, Cagney & Lacey, and MacGyver, but occasionally in a lead role. He starred in the 1976 children’s series Big John, Little John, as well as The Good Guys with Bob Denver (Denver’s first series after Gilligan’s Island), from 1968 to 1970. He also appeared with Bill Bixby and Valerie Perrine in Bruce Jay Friedman’s Steambath, a controversial PBS dramedy, during 1973. From 1984 to 1988, he had a recurring role on St. Elsewhere. Edelman also appeared in ten episodes of Murder, She Wrote between 1984 and 1995, most frequently appearing as New York Police Department Lieutenant Artie Gelber. His last role was on an episode of Burke’s Law.
Herb Edelman was married to soap opera actress Louise Sorel from 1964 to 1970, and was domestically partnered to Merrilyn Crosgrove from 1973 to 1984, with whom he had two children. He was romantically linked with actress Christina Pickles (his co-star on St. Elsewhere), from the mid-1980s until his death. Edelman is survived by his two children, Briana and Jacy Edelman. Herb Edelman died at age 62 of emphysema. His interment was at Montefiore Cemetery.
- November, 05, 1933
- Brooklyn, New York
- July, 21, 1996
- Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- Montefiore Cemetery
- Springfield Gardens, New York