Larry Storch


1/8/1923 (98 years old)

Dialect comedians may not be politically acceptable these days, but American comic actor Larry Storch has never lacked work all the same. A product of the New York ethnic "melting pot," Storch amused his childhood friends (including lifelong chum Don Adams) with his dead-on impressions of the many Italians, Hispanics, Germans and Jews in his neighborhood. He advanced his skills for mimicry by virtually living in the local movie houses, memorizing the speech patterns of such character actors as Victor McLaglen, Guy Kibbee and Charley Grapewin. One of his first jobs after World War II navy service was as a writer on The Kraft Music Hall, where he was frequently required to substitute for the star, blustery actor Frank Morgan; years later, he revived his Morgan impression as Chumley on the cartoon series Tennessee Tuxedo (in which his old pal Don Adams voiced the title character). In 1951 Storch appeared in the Chicago revue Red White and Blue, which led to a stint as summer replacement for Jackie Gleason on the Dumont TV series Cavalcade of Stars. Storch's most common stamping grounds in the '50s was the nightclub stage; at one point he even ran his own club. Storch made his film bow in The Prince who was a Thief (51) which starred a friend from his Navy days, Tony Curtis. When Storch's career was on the wane in the early '60s, Curtis cast him in several of his vehicles of that period, including Who was That Lady (1960), wherein Storch recreated his Broadway role as an emotional Russian spy. After a semi-recurring role as Charlie the Drunk (who became besotted simply by talking about drinking) on the early '60s sitcom Car 54, Where are You?, Storch was cast as Corporal Agarn, comic sidekick of conniving cavalry sergeant O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) on the western comedy weekly F Troop (1965-66). In addition to Agarn, Storch was permitted to play various foreign branches of the Agarn family, with appropriate broad accents. Since the cancellation of F Troop in 1966, Larry Storch has been a regular on The Queen and I (1969) and The Ghost Busters (1976), has worked periodically in films, and has appeared with great frequency in clubs (still doing "characterization" routines rather than one-liners) and on stage. In 1991, Larry Storch garnered excellent notices for his brief character turn in the off-Broadway play Breaking Legs.