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Philip Baker Hall, of ‘Hard Eight,’ ‘Seinfeld,’ Dies at 90


Philip Baker Hall, the lead filmmaker and actor who starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s first films and who memorized the long-awaited library book for “Seinfeld,” has died. He was 90 years old.

Holly Wolfle Hall, the actress’s wife of about 40, said on Monday that Hall had died on Sunday surrounded by loved ones in Glendale, California. He said Hall was healthy until a few weeks ago, and spent his last days happily, thinking about his health.

“His voice was finally equally powerful,” said Wolfle Hall. Her husband, she added, has never retired from acting.

In a career that spanned half a century, Hall was an outstanding character, an ubiquitous hangdog face that looked ugly that could absorb momentum and humble gravity. His list was wide, but the Hall often played men in suits, trench coats, and lab coats.

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“The most depressed men, the older men, are on the verge of enduring suffering and depression and pain,” Hall told the Washington Post in 2017. “I had a relationship playing those roles.”

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Hall became more involved in theater in Los Angeles, after being released in 1975, rather than TV and movies. While filming small parts of Hollywood (episode of “Good Times” was one of his first songs), Hall worked with the LA Actor Theater. In 1983, he starred Richard Nixon in the play “The Secret Hour,” a role he repeated in Robert Altman’s film adaptation.

Hall has played a minor role in other films, such as the 1988 “Midnight Run”. But outside the theater, Hall was playing the role of guests on television. That changed when he shot the PBS system in 1992. Hall then met with the assistant director. Paul Thomas Anderson, 20 years old. The two were sitting alone, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in between games. a short short film titled “Tobacco & Coffee.”

“I’m reading this script, and I’m really having a hard time believing that kid wrote this script,” Hall said told AV Club in 2012. “I mean, it ‘s really good, it’ s sounding different everywhere, like a playwright. Certainly, as a film, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was amazing.”

After a $ 20,000 short entry into the Sundance Film Festival, Anderson expanded it into his first feature, 1997’s “Hard Eight”, which enhanced Hall’s work. In it, Hall plays a smart and modest gambler named Sydney who trains a young boy (John C. Reilly) in the profession. In another unforgettable incident, the first was Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anderson, a grassroots gambler chides Hall “as an elder.”

Anderson will also play Hall as adult film theater chief Floyd Gondolli who warns Burt Reynolds pornographer about the future of the industry in “Boogie Nights.” In Anderson’s “Magnolia”, Hall plays the children’s game host.

“I really like the characters, I want to make them great actors,” Anderson said. told the Los Angeles Times in 1998. “I see Philip Baker Hall, he’s just … my favorite character. No one else has such a face, or such a voice.”

To many, Hall was immediately spotted as one of the powerful comedians on “Seinfeld.” In the 22nd episode of sitcom in 1991, Hall played Lt. Joe Bookman, a library investigator who comes after Seinfeld a copy of “Tropic of Cancer.” Well, I got you a light, Joy-boy: The party time is over. “

Hall reverted to the conclusion of “Seinfeld” and Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” David once said that no other character has ever laughed at him more than Hall.

Among Hall’s many other credits were Michael Mann’s “The Insider,” such as the “60 Minutes” producer Don Hewitt, and Lars von Trier’s “Dogville.” Hall appeared in “The Truman Show,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley, ”“ Zodiac, ”“ Argo ”and“ The Hour of Urgency. ”Hall played neighbor Walt Kleezak in” Modern Family. “His last performance was in the 2020 series” The Messiah. “

Hall, who was married to Dianne Lewis for three years in the early 1970’s, is survived by his wife, four daughters, four grandchildren and a brother.

Philip Baker Hall, of ‘Hard Eight,’ ‘Seinfeld,’ Dies at 90

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