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Harvey Lembeck Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (7)

Overview (3)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Harvey Lembeck was an American actor of Jewish descent, primarily known for comedic roles. Early in his life, Lembeck had worked as a dancer, and radio announcer.

Lembeck was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1923, and attended New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn.. In 1939, the 16-year-old Lembeck started working as a dancer, part of a dance team known as The Dancing Carrolls. The team performed at the New York World's Fair (April, 1939-October, 1940). Lembeck started dating his teammate, the female dancer Caroline Dubs. Lembeck and Dubs eventually married each other, and remained married until Lembeck's death in 1982.

During World War II, Lembeck served in the United States Army. He was discharged at the end of the War, and soon after started college studies at New York University. He graduated in 1947, with a degree at radio arts. He intended to work as sports radio announcer, but his teacher Robert Emerson advised Lembeck to try his hand at an acting career. Emerson had seen Lembeck perform at the University's theatrical productions and had seen potential in him.

From 1948 to 1951, Lembeck performed at the hit Broadway play "Mister Roberts" by Joshua Logan. The play was an adaptation of a novel by Thomas Heggen, and dramatized life aboard a ship of the United States Navy during the Pacific War campaign of World War II. Based on his Broadway success, Lembeck was offered his first film roles by the a California-based film studio, called 20th Century Fox.

In 1951, Lembeck played parts in three new films: the military-themed comedy "You're in the Navy Now", the film noir "Fourteen Hours", and the scuba-diving- themed war film "The Frogmen". However, he was cast in small parts in each of them. Back in Broadway, Lembeck had more success with the hit play "Stalag 17" by co-writers Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski. The play depicted the life of the inmates in a Gernan prisoners-of-war camp during World War II.

In 1953, a film adaptation of "Stalag 17" was produced by Paramount Pictures, and Lembeck was hired to reprise his role. The film became a surprise box office hit, and Lembeck won the Theater Owners of America's Laurel Award for outstanding comedy performance. Afterwards Lembeck received more offers for film roles, though he was typecast into military roles for most of these films.

In 1955, Lembeck had a main-cast role in a television sitcom "The Phil Silvers Show" (1955-1959). The show featured the misadventures of Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko of the United States Army, a self-serving con-man and swindler. Lembeck played the part of Corporal Rocco Barbella, one of Bilko's sidekicks and partners-in-crime. The sitcom lasted four years, and the final episode featured both Bilko and Barbella being arrested for an embezzling scheme and incarcerated.

In the early 1960s, Lembeck played recurring parts in various sitcoms. He was eventually cast in co-starring role in the short-lived military comedy series "Ensign O'Toole" (1962-1963). He continued to appear in films, and had a minor hit with with the comedy film "Beach Party" (1963). He played the film's sympathetic villain, the outlaw biker Eric Von Zipper. Zipper was an affectionate parody of Marlon Brando's character Johnny Strabler from "The Wild One" (1953).

From 1964 to 1966, Lembeck reprised the role of Eric Von Zipper in five sequels to "Beach Party". They were "Bikini Beach" (1964), "Pajama Party" (1964), "Beach Blanket Bingo" (1965), "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" (1965) and "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" (1966). He also played another, unnamed, "motorcycle thug" in the comedy "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" (1965), which spoofed the then-new "James Bond" series of films.

For most of the late 1960s, Lembeck was preoccupied with his theatrical career. In 1964, Lembeck succeeded Jack Kosslyn at the leadership of an actors' workshop. He initially focused on working with comedy scripts, but later started training actors in improvisational comedy. In his view, improvisation was one of the best ways to develop the comedy skills of an actor.

Lembeck had another hit theatrical role in the 1960s, as Sancho Pancha in the play "Man of La Mancha" (1965) by Dale Wasserman. The play was itself a loose adaptation of the two-part novel "Don Quixote" (1605, 1615) by Miguel de Cervantes.

For most of the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, Lembeck appeared in guest star roles in television, with infrequent appearances in film. His last film appearance was a bit part in the comedy "The Gong Show Movie" (1980), a notorious flop of its era. He continued to both perform and teach acting.

In January 1982, Lembeck was performing in an episode of the sitcom "Mork & Mindy" (1978-1982), when he suddenly felt ill. Soon after, he had a heart attack and died in the studio set of the show. He was only 58-years-old. Lembeck's children were the actor Michael Lembeck and actress Helaine Lembeck.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I

Spouse (1)

Caroline Dubs (24 June 1944 - 5 January 1982) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (7)

Father of Michael Lembeck.
Also father of Helaine Lembeck who performed in 14 episodes of Welcome Back, Kotter (1975), among others.
Dark, chunky, raucous comic actor of the 1950s and '60s who provided lip service in a wise-guy vein on stage ("Stalag 17"), screen (Stalag 17 (1953), all the Beach Party movies as the inept Hells' Angels-like Eric Von Zipper), and TV (The Phil Silvers Show (1955)). Very reminiscent of John Belushi.
Father-in-law of actress Lorna Patterson.
Ex-father-in-law of Barbara Deutsch.
New York University graduate of 1947, who got his start in show business as half of 'the Dancing Carrolls', before specializing in military comedy. His acclaimed performance in Stalag 17 (1953) reprised the role he had previously played on the stage.
US Army, WWII.

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