Veteran actor Richard Erdman, who is known for his role on the NBC series Community as octogenarian student Leonard Rodriguez, has passed away at the age of 93. Over the years, Erdman has appeared in several films and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, Murder, She Wrote, and many others. While Erdman has several acting credits, his most recent work on Community is what he is most known for today, as he held a reoccurring role on the series from its inception in 2009 through its final air date in 2015.
Born in Oklahoma in 1925, Erdman grew up in Colorado Springs before he ventured off to Hollywood where he was soon discovered by Warner Bros. In the 1950s, Edman began appearing on TV in roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, and Where’s Raymond?. Erdman would appear in a 1963 episode of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone – which is set to have its third revival this upcoming April from Academy Award-winning writer and director Jordan Peele – as an ill-mannered man who causes mischief when he comes across a stopwatch that can stop time. Over the weekend, film historian Alan K. Rode, who was a friend of Erdman’s informed the public of the veteran actor’s passing.
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Rode sent out a tweet paying tribute to Erdman, who was 93 at the time of his death. Nothing further was given in regards to a cause of death, but Rode did state that Erdman passed a few hours prior to the tweet. Erdman was prominent during his early years of acting, but for modern audiences, he is recognized as the elderly student Leonard from Community. Series creator Dan Harmon took to Instagram to pay tribute to Erdman, whose on-screen character became associated with the phrase “Shut up, Leonard!” Check out Harmon’s post below:
Erdman’s most recent appearance to date was on the short-lived ABC series Dr. Ken, but this was only for one episode. Erdman’s character on Community was a veteran student who had been attending Greendale Community College since 1975. The character seemingly had no intention of graduating and was viewed as a nuisance by other students on campus. He wasn’t alone on campus, as there was a group of elderly students known as “The Hipsters,” and Leonard was the apparent leader of the faction. While the series concluded in 2015, there have been talks of a movie happening as well as a potential seventh season, but nothing has been made official.
Erdman’s contributions over the years will never be forgotten, and his role on Community will always be remembered by viewers of the show. His appearances in several series and films during Hollywood’s golden age will always be a highlighted portion of his resume. He is preceded by his daughter Erica, and his wife Sharon who passed in 2016.
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Source: Alan K. Rode, Dan Harmon