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    Jerry's "Seinfeld" Dad Dies

    Morty Seinfeld, Jerry's "#1 Dad," is dead.

    Barney Martin, the veteran character actor who once served as a stand-in for Jackie Gleason and found fame late in life as Jerry Seinfeld's paternal unit in Seinfeld, died Monday at his home in Studio City, California. He was 82.

    According to publicist Jennifer Glassman, the cause of death was cancer.

    Martin was actually the second actor to play Morty. Philip Bruns played the character in the very first episode in 1990, but it was Martin who stuck in the role, appearing in 23 episodes between 1991 and 1998.

    Playing opposite Liz Sheridan (aka Helen Seinfeld), Martin earned a place in pop culture history as the Florida retiree who complained about the Costanzas, schemed with Kramer to sell belt-less raincoats and launched an ill-fated run for chairman of his Boca Raton condominium board.

    When the series ended its run in 1998, Martin told the Associated Press at the wrap party, "Playing Jerry's dad was like having whipped cream on top of a mountain of ice cream."

    Before his Seinfeld duty, Martin worked steadily on TV in the '80s and early '90s, regularly turning up in sitcoms like Major Dad, Full House, The Golden Girls, The Wonder Years, Murphy Brown, Mama's Family, Punky Brewster, Diff'rent Strokes and Night Court. He also waxed dramatic for turns on 21 Jump Street, Murder She Wrote, Hill Street Blues The Twilight Zone, and St. Elsewhere.

    To moviegoers, Martin was best remembered for playing another dad--Liza Minnelli's bathrobe-favoring father in 1981's Arthur.

    The son of a policeman, Martin was born March 3, 1923 in Queens, New York. He served as a navigator in the Air Force during World war II, flying some 40-plus missions. After his discharge, he followed his father to the force, rising to detective. His knack for joke-telling earned him a spot writing speeches for various officials, and a second career was born.

    He began peddling one-liners to comics and eventually landed a writing gig on Name That Tune, followed by The Steve Allen Show, where he met Mel Brooks, who coaxed Martin into performing. By the end of the '50s, his robust frame got him a job as a stand-in for Gleason.

    He appeared in the original Candid Camera and landed a small part in Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man. Brooks cast Martin in 1968's The Producers, which led to some highly regarded work on Broadway.

    Martin appeared in The Fantasticks, South Pacific, All American and How Now Dow Jones. He created the role of Roxie Hart's dull hubby, Amos, in the original stage production of Chicago.

    In the '70s, he returned to the tube, guest starring in The Odd Couple and then becoming a regular on The Tony Randall Show.

    Martin, who lost a daughter to cancer in 2002, is survived by his wife and son.

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