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Steve Landesberg, actor on ‘Barney Miller’

Steve Landesberg (center, with glasses) with the cast of “Barney Miller,’’ including (from left) Hal Linden in the title role, Ron Glass, Max Gail, Ron Carey, and James Gregory. Steve Landesberg (center, with glasses) with the cast of “Barney Miller,’’ including (from left) Hal Linden in the title role, Ron Glass, Max Gail, Ron Carey, and James Gregory. (Abc)
By Hamilton Boardman
New York Times / December 24, 2010

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NEW YORK — Steve Landesberg, an actor and comedian with a friendly and often deadpan manner who appeared on television and in movies, including “Barney Miller,’’ “The Golden Girls,’’ “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’’ and “Head Case,’’ has died at 74, his agent said Monday.

The agent, Jeffrey Leavitt, said he did not have details of the location or time of Mr. Landesberg’s death.

The cause was colon cancer.

Mr. Landesberg is probably best known for the role of Detective Sergeant Arthur P. Dietrich in the 1970s sitcom “Barney Miller.’’ The sitcom, which ran on ABC from 1975 to 1982, featured Mr. Landesberg as an intellectual detective with a quiet manner who seemed to have an unrivaled knowledge of practically any topic that arose.

He was also given to odd, unexpected pronouncements. In one 1980 episode he tells his boss, Captain Miller, played by Hal Linden, that he is working on a case that dates to 1973. Miller says: “That was seven years ago! Nixon was president!’’ Dietrich’s low-key response: “No, he’s got an airtight alibi for this one.’’ Mr. Landesberg received three Emmy nominations for that role.

The sitcom, set in a New York City police station, portrayed a group of wisecracking detectives who dealt with the oddball characters who would end up there. With most of the action in the squad room rather than out in the street, some police officers have said that the show often better represented the real life of rank-and-file officers than many detective dramas on television.

After “Barney Miller’’ left the air, Mr. Landesberg appeared on several other television shows, including “The Golden Girls,’’ “Harry and the Hendersons,’’ “That ’70s Show,’’ and “Everybody Hates Chris.’’ Most recently, Mr. Landesberg played Dr. Myron Finkelstein, a Freudian therapist, in “Head Case,’’ a comedy on the Starz cable channel.

Born in New York City, Mr. Landesberg began working in New York comedy clubs in the late 1960s and early 1970s.