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Allan Arbus
Born Allan Franklin Arbus
(1918-02-15)February 15, 1918
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died April 19, 2013(2013-04-19) (aged 95)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Congestive heart failure
Occupation Actor, Photographer
Years active 1961–2000
Spouse(s) Diane Nemerov
(m. 1941–69)

Mariclare Costello
(m. 1977)
Children 3, including Doon and Amy Arbus

Allan Franklin Arbus (February 15, 1918 – April 19, 2013)[1] was an American actor and photographer and the husband of photographer Diane Arbus. He is most known for his role as psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman (Major) on the CBS television series M*A*S*H.

Early life

Arbus was born in New York City, to a Jewish family,[2] the son of stockbroker Harry Arbus and his wife Rose (née Goldberg).[3] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he first developed an interest in acting while appearing in a student play.[4]

Arbus was also a music lover. Before becoming an actor, he was reportedly so taken by Benny Goodman's recordings that he took up playing the clarinet.[4]

Photography career

During the 1940s, Arbus became a photographer for the United States Army. In 1946, after completing his military service, he and his first wife, photographer Diane Arbus (née Nemerov, whom he had married in 1941), started a photographic advertising business in Manhattan. Arbus was primarily known for advertising photography that appeared in Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other magazines, as well as the weekly newspaper advertising photography for Russek's, a Fifth Avenue department store owned by Diane's father.[5] Edward Steichen's noted photo exhibition The Family of Man includes a photograph credited to the couple.[6] The Arbuses' professional partnership ended in 1956, when Diane quit the business; the couple formally separated three years later. Allan Arbus continued on for a number of years as a solo photographer, but was out of the business by the time the couple divorced in 1969.

Diane and Allan Arbus's studio/living quarters were at one time at 319 East 72nd Street in New York City. Their neighbor and friend was Robert Brown, an actor on the TV show Here Come the Brides.

Acting career

After the breakup of his first marriage and the dissolution of his business, Arbus decided to leave photography behind and pursue a new career in acting. In 1969 he moved to California.[7] His new career took off after he landed the lead role in Robert Downey Sr.'s cult film Greaser's Palace (1972), in which he appears with Robert Downey, Jr. (who would go on to star as Diane Arbus's muse in Fur, a fictional account of the end of the Arbuses' marriage). Arbus also starred opposite Bette Davis in Scream, Pretty Peggy in 1973, and was featured as Gregory LaCava in W.C. Fields and Me in 1976. These roles led to his casting as Maj. Sidney Freedman on M*A*S*H, although in an early episode, "Radar's Report" (1973), he was called "Milton Freedman".

Arbus's work on M*A*S*H helped his career as a character actor, and he eventually appeared in more than 70 TV shows and movies.[8] He appears briefly in the 1973 film Cinderella Liberty as a drunken sailor; another 1973 film, Coffy (starring Pam Grier), features Arbus as a drug dealer with strange sexual needs; in the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, he plays Pasarian, one of Damien's many victims in The Omen trilogy.

Arbus is far better known for his television work, which includes over 45 titles and works as recent as Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2000.[8] Among Arbus's non-M*A*S*H TV work are guest and recurring roles in such television series as Law & Order, In the Heat of the Night, L.A. Law, Matlock, Starsky and Hutch, and Judging Amy.

Personal life

Allan and Diane Arbus had two children, photographer Amy Arbus and writer and art director Doon Arbus. The couple separated in 1959 and divorced in 1969, two years before Diane Arbus's suicide in 1971.

Arbus married actress Mariclare Costello in 1977. The couple had one daughter, Arin Arbus, who is the associate artistic director at Theatre for a New Audience.

Arbus died of congestive heart failure on April 19, 2013, in Los Angeles. He was 95.[1] He was cremated and his ashes given to his family.[9]

TV and filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Hey, Let's Twist! Doctor Uncredited
1969 Putney Swope Mr. Bad News
1971 The Christian Licorice Store Monroe
1972 Cisco Pike Sim Valensi
1972 Greaser's Palace Jessy
1973 The Young Nurses Krebs
1973 Coffy Arturo Vitroni
1973 Scream, Pretty Peggy Dr. Saks TV movie
1973 Cinderella Liberty Drunken Sailor
1974 Law and Disorder Dr. Richter
1976 Hawaii Five-O (1968 TV series, season 8) Vince Maynard
1976 W.C. Fields and Me Gregory LaCava
1977 Raid on Entebbe Eli Melnick
1978 Damien: Omen II Pasarian
1978 Wonder Woman Bleaker TV
Episode: "The Girl from Ilandia"
1979 Americathon Moishe Weitzman
1979 The Electric Horseman Danny
1980 The Last Married Couple in America Al Squib
1981 Gangster Wars Goodman
1982 Quincy, M.E. Dr. Ellerick TV
Episode: "For Love of Joshua"
M*A*S*H Major Sidney Freedman 12 Episodes
1984 The World of Don Camillo Christ Voice
1984 The Four Seasons Boris Elliot TV
13 episodes
1985 Cagney & Lacey Arthur Stacey TV
Episode: "Violation"
1985 Volunteers Albert Bardenaro
1985 Hardcastle and McCormick Dr. Friedman TV
Episode: "Do Not Go Gentle"
1986 Crossroads Dr. Santis
1986 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Dr. Andreas Hellman TV
A Fighting Choice
1987 From the Hip Phil Ames
1987 Spies Jano TV
Episode: "Baby"
1987 Daniel and the Towers Simon 'Sam' Rodia TV movie
1987 Ohara Sol Rostoff TV
Episode: "The Intruders"
1987 Duet Mr. Coleman TV
Episode: "Born, Bred and Buttered in Brooklyn"
1987 Matlock Peter Leoni TV
Episode: "The Chef"
1989 L.A. Law Lawrence Stone TV
Episode: "I'm in the Nude for Love"
1989 The Preppie Murder Arnold Domenitz TV movie
1989 Matlock Aaron Mitchell TV
Episode: "The Star"
1989 When He's Not a Stranger Judge Thomas J. Gray TV movie
1990 Hunter Norman Tate TV
Episode: "Unfinished Business"
1990 Too Much Sun Vincent
1991 Stat Hesh Cooper TV
Episodes: "Safe Smuggling" & "Fantasy"
Brooklyn Bridge Dr. Schulman TV
3 episodes
1993 Law & Order Dominique Keith TV
Episode: "Animal Instinct"
1993 Josh and S.A.M. Businessman on plane
In The Heat of the Night Dr. Atwill TV
Episodes: "Discovery" & "Little Girl Lost"
1994 Mad About You Albert TV
Episode: "The Last Scampi"
1997 In Dark Places Dory
1998 L.A. Doctors Mr. Mitski TV
Episode: "A Prayer for the living"
1999 Making Contact Father Time
1999 NYPD Blue Seymore Epstein TV
Episode: "Don't Meth with Me"
1999 Judging Amy Judge Fowler TV
3 episodes
2000 Curb Your Enthusiasm Uncle Nathan TV
Episode: "The Group"
2016 Chief Zabu George Dankworth (final film role)


  1. 1.0 1.1 "MASH actor Allan Arbus dies at 95". BBC News. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  2. Bloom, Nate (2005-05-05). "Celebrity Jews". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  3. Allan Arbus Biography (1918–)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Boehm, Mike (2000-12-31). "Theater; Lured Back for One Last Great Role; Veteran actor Allan Arbus leaves a fulfilling retirement to take on an Arthur Miller part he found he couldn't resist.". Los Angeles Times.'t+resist.&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2009-09-14. "Arbus says he yearned to be an actor from his early teens, when he had a moment of special clarity while playing in a student production at DeWitt Clinton High School." 
  5. Lubow, Arthur. "Arbus Reconsidered." New York Times, September 14, 2003. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  6. Marshall, Peter. "Diane Arbus: Key Facts". Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  7. Trounson, Rebecca (April 23, 2013). "Allan Arbus dies at 95; played psychiatrist on 'MASH'". Los Angeles Times.,0,3657438.story. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "IMDb Filmography for Allan Arbus". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 

External links

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