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'Seinfeld' actor Bill Erwin dies at 96

Bill Erwin (AGENCY)

By Reuters

Bill Erwin, a character actor best known for playing an irascible old man on a "Seinfeld" episode, has died of natural causes aged 96.

He died December 29 in the Los Angeles suburb of Studio City, coincidentally near the old "Seinfeld" production lot. Erwin received an Emmy nomination for his turn as Sid Fields, an embittered man whom Jerry Seinfeld's character volunteers to look after - but then loses - in an episode involving flying dentures, a giant goitre and a Senegalese housekeeper.

He also played Arthur the Bellman in the 1980 film "Somewhere in Time," a time-traveling romantic drama starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Erwin returned many times to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Mich., the film's setting, to participate in annual fan celebrations.

The Texas native had a long career on stage, working on Broadway and locally in southern California. Among his numerous TV commercials was a Dreyer's Ice Cream spot in which he played an old man notified by his wife that "Dessert's ready, it's Dreyer's Ice Cream." That prompted Erwin's chair-bound character to leap up and break dance.

He was also a self-taught cartoonist whose work was published in the New Yorker, Playboy and Los Angeles magazine. He is survived by four children and eight grandchildren.