Cliff Osmond

Cliff Osmond

Osmond in The Fortune Cookie in 1966
Born February 26, 1937
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Died December 22, 2012(2012-12-22) (aged 75)
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Cause of death Pancreatic cancer
Alma mater Dartmouth College
University of California, Los Angeles
Years active 1962–1996
Spouse(s) Gretchen Ebrahim (1962-2012) (his death) (2 children)[1]
Children Margaret Ebrahim
Eric Ebrahim[2]

Cliff Osmond (born Clifford Osman Ebrahim) (February 26, 1937 – December 22, 2012) was an American character actor and television screenwriter best known for appearing in films directed by Billy Wilder. A parallel career as an acting teacher coincided with his other activities.

Early life

Osmond was born in the Margaret Hague Medical Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, and reared in Union City, New Jersey. He was a graduate of Thomas A. Edison grammar school, Emerson High School, and Dartmouth College (Bachelor of Arts in English). He received his Master's degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles and advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. in the field of Theater History at UCLA.


He appeared in four of Billy Wilder's comedies, beginning with Irma la Douce (1963) as the police sergeant. He played the songwriter Barney Millsap in Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), which used new comedic song lyrics by Ira Gershwin set to unused tunes composed by his brother George. Osmond also appeared in two later Wilder films a co-starring role as Purkey opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in The Fortune Cookie (1966), and The Front Page (1974). Osmond was also seen in menacing roles as Pap in the 1981 TV adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.[3]

Osmond made more than 100 appearances in TV shows or movies between 1962 and 1996. During that period he guest-starred at least half a dozen times on Gunsmoke and in the 1965 episode "Yahoo" of NBC's Laredo. He was cast in "The Gift", 1962) of the original The Twilight Zone. He played a hippie in Ironside (1968) and appeared as well on Here's Lucy (1974), The New Land (1974), as a plumber's apprentice on work release from prison in All in the Family (1975), The Bob Newhart Show (1975), and Kojak (1976).

Also a screenwriter, Osmond was nominated for a Writer's Guild Award for writing an episode of Streets of San Francisco (1973). He also wrote and directed the feature film The Penitent (1988), starring Raul Julia and Armand Assante.

As an actor, he received a Best Actor award for his UCLA performance of Berthold Brecht's Baal, and the Joseph Jefferson acting award for a Chicago stage appearance in Shaw's You Never Can Tell.

Later career

In addition to his acting and writing careers, Osmond was an acting teacher and coach in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the fall of 2004, he was visiting professor in acting and Guest Resident Artist at Georgetown University, teaching two acting courses and directing Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House.

In 2010, he wrote a book about his career and acting: Acting is Living: Exploring the Ten Essential Elements in any Successful Performance.


Cliff Osmond died on December 22, 2012, of pancreatic cancer, aged 75.[4]

Partial filmography

External links


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