Lou Cutell: ‘Seinfeld’ actor dies aged 77

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Lou Cutell died at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer

Actor Lou Cutell, best known for playing “Dr Largo Sigmund Grey” in two episodes of Seinfeld, has died at the age of 77.

Mr Cutell was diagnosed with cancer in April and went into hospital in mid-June, where he died.

He had starred in 36 TV shows, including episodes of SeaQuest DSV, NCIS, and Stargate: Atlantis.

The actor spent several decades in theatre and on film and was also a leading light in New York’s nightclub scene, performing with Kurt Russell, Herbie Hancock and others.

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He attended the prestigious New York High School of Performing Arts (NYHPPA) – a send-up of the New York City High School of Performing Arts.

Among his award-winning performances was a Broadway run of Arms and the Man, in which he played Lt Col Isaac Deutschendorf, the war hero described by Lyndon Johnson as “the most unattractive man in the theatre”.

In 1982, Mr Cutell starred opposite Danny DeVito in the role of Rafalski in Reno 911, a cult comedy movie about a ragtag group of firefighters who attempt to put out a fire at the opening of the grandest casino in town.

His last role came as Burt Hisslingback in SeaQuest DSV: The Next Explorer, which was cancelled by the Sci-Fi Channel in 2000.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption It was Mr Cutell’s final role as the controversial doctor

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on 19 September 1936, Mr Cutell was a theatrical child who initially performed on stage.

He first appeared on TV in 1964 when he acted as Emmon Murphy for 13 episodes of The Partridge Family, and went on to appear in such shows as Airwolf, The Twilight Zone, Profiler, and Twin Peaks.

When his TV career began to stagnate, he went to acting school and said: “I was reading every play I could get my hands on, even though some of them were horrible.

“It was a way to be in the room with the writers and actors. I wasn’t trying to get into show business.”

That competitive streak was evident in his prolific film career, where he had several interesting parts.

In 1980 he was cast as Padruzz, one of the eight prisons where the sole survivor of a US prisoner of war camp is kept.

Dr Grey, in an episode of Seinfeld, was the first on-screen male homosexual in the US. The episode was addressed to his “deep love” – fictionalised television executive Michael Richards (Jerry Seinfeld) – and it was revealed that the actor had been in fact closeted himself.

He also starred as the serial killer Adam Roderick, and appeared in other top-rated shows, including Knight Rider and Frasier.

Mr Cutell returned to New York in the 1990s, working in the New York theatre scene, and stayed active until his final years.

He spoke openly about battling the disease, describing it as an “incurable and unbelievable disease”.

The actor is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia Doyle Cutell.

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