Known to contemporary audiences as Leonard in the US sitcom Community, Richard Erdman had more than seven decades of acting experience under his belt.
The character actor wowed viewers on TV and in the cinema with roles in classic titles including The Twilight Zone and Stalag 17.
Born in Oklahoma in 1925, Erdman was raised in Colorado then moved to Hollywood to try his luck as a teenager following the advice of a theatre director.
He was soon discovered by one of the most well-renowned directors in history, Michael Curtiz, and instantly snapped up with a contract to Warner Bros.
Goodbye pal. Dick Erdman 1925-2019 pic.twitter.com/oA9pjz04O9
— Alan K. Rode (@alancinephile) March 17, 2019
Erdman made his cinema debut in the 1944 Bette Davis film Mr Skeffington and followed it up later that year with a role in Curtiz’s Broadway adaptation, Janie.
He continued working as a side character in films for several years but his big break came when he moved into television in the 1950s.
In 1953 he landed a recurring role in sitcom Where’s Raymond alongside Ray Bolger and appeared in 32 episodes across the show’s three seasons.
That same year he played Sgt. ‘Hoffy’ Hoffman in the dramatic comedy Stalag 17 – a film which resulted in top accolades for swathes of its cast and crew.
Erdman starred in an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1963, playing a man who is given a stopwatch which can pause time.
Later he appeared in episodes of shows including Hogan’s Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie, The Six Million Dollar Man and Murder, She Wrote.
He also tried his hand at directing with the family-friendly TV movie Mooch Goes to Hollywood in 1971.
More recently Erdman played octogenarian college student Leonard Rodriguez in US sitcom Community, appearing in 53 episodes.
The show’s lead actor Joel McHale described him as “such a good and funny man”.
Fellow co-star Yvette Nicole Brown said: “I knew the day we’d have to say goodbye to this lovely man would come sooner than any of us were ready.
“But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.
— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) March 17, 2019
“Richard Erdman was joy walking. Anyone who saw him on Community gleefully stealing every scene he was in knows that’s true.”
Erdman married his first wife Leza Holland in 1948, but they divorced two years later. In 1953 he married his second wife Sharon Randall, who died in 2016.
Their daughter Erica, a poet and author, was born in 1954 and died in 2010.
Erdman died on Saturday aged 93.
A statement from the Screen Actors Guild – a union representing more than 160,000 entertainers – said: “The SAG Awards mourns the loss of Richard Erdman.
“Our thoughts go out to his fans and loved ones during this difficult time.”