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Hal Linden Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (16)

Overview (3)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameHarold Lipshitz
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A familiar name thanks to his handsome, brush-mustachioed titular cop on a popular 70's TV show, Bronx-born actor/singer/musician Hal Linden (né Harold Lipschitz, March 20, 1931) was the son of Lithuanian immigrant Charles Lipshitz and his wife Frances Rosen. He had one older brother, Bernard, who would become a future Professor of Music at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Similarly musical, Hal took up classical clarinet in his late teens and went on to play regularly with symphony orchestras. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he studied music at Queens College, moving later to City College where he earned a degree in business. Hal supplemented his income playing in dance bands and was asked, at one point, to join Sammy Kaye on tour. Around this time he changed his marquee name to the more inviting "Hal Linden."

This mild invitation into professional show business sparked an interest in acting. Upon receiving his discharge, Hal enrolled at New York's American Theatre Wing where he trained in voice and drama. Eventually drafted into the Army in 1952, he utilized his talents by singing and providing entertainment for the troops. Discharged in 1954, he turned to summer stock and met Frances Martin, a dancer, the following year while both were in the chorus of "Mr. Wonderful" in Cape Cod. They married three years later and she willingly gave up her career to raise a family (four children).

During the early 1950s, he toured with Sammy Kaye and Bobby Sherwood and His Orchestra, among other bands. Hal's first Broadway show was with the 1956 musical "Bells Are Ringing" where he understudied lead Sydney Chaplin in the role of Jeff Moss. He later took over the role. He would make a bigger impression as Billy Crocker in the Broadway revival of Cole Porter in 1962. Hal accumulated more musical credits with leads in "Something More," "Illya, Darling" and "The Apple Tree" (as the Devil).

Although Hal also appeared in a couple of straight plays during this time ("Angel in the Pawnshop," "Three Men on a Horse"), he would win the 1971 Tony award for his earnest portrayal of Mayer Rothschild in the musical "The Rothschilds." This was quickly followed by the title role in the musical "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window," "The Enclave," "The Pajama Game," and other stage roles.

Hal's musical prominence finally led to legit television parts in the early 70's with guest appearances on "Circle of Fear," "Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside" and "The F.B.I." This, in turn, gave him the clout to be tested in a star role, that of the personable precinct boss on the highly popular Barney Miller (1975) sitcom. The long-running comedy program lasted eight seasons and Hal was subsequently Emmy-nominated each year, becoming a highly pleasant household name thanks to his warmly masculine looks, easy charm and dazzling smile.

Accommodating this TV triumph was several light and heavy TV-movie vehicles, including How to Break Up a Happy Divorce (1976), Father Figure (1980), The Other Woman (1983) and the two-person musical I Do! I Do! (1983) co-starring Lee Remick. Following that, Hal has appeared in other shorter-run TV series -- the title magician in Blacke's Magic (1986), title restaurateur in Jack's Place (1992) and as the beleaguered patriarch in the domestic sitcom The Boys Are Back (1994).

Although film stardom eluded Hal, he has supported a handful of films, including A New Life (1988), Just Friends (1996), Out to Sea (1997), Dumb Luck (2001), Time Changer (2002), Light Years Away (2008), Stevie D (2016), The Samuel Project (2018) and Grand-Daddy Day Care (2019). A much bigger presence on TV, Hal dominated with a number of guest appearances -- "The Golden Girls," "The Nanny," "Touched by an Angel," "Law & Order," "Will & Grace," "The King of Queens," "Hot in Cleveland," "2 Broke Girls" and "Grey's Anatomy." In 2006 and 2007, he enjoyed a recurring role on the daytime soap The Bold and the Beautiful (1987).

In between, he continued to impress on the stage with performances in such acclaimed plays and musicals as "Company," "Cabaret," "I'm Not Rappaport," "Tuesdays with Morrie," "The Sisters Rosenzweig" and "A Christmas Carol," while continuing musical tours as a clarinetist. The national chairman of the March of Dimes for many years, Hal's career length has now surpassed six decades. His wife Frances died in 2010.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Frances Linden (13 April 1958 - 9 July 2010) ( her death) ( 4 children)

Trade Mark (4)

The role of Barney Miller.
Calm, reasonable voice.
His mustache.
Bronx accent.

Trivia (14)

Chose his stage name on the way from Philadelphia to an acting job in New York City. He saw the water tower in Linden, New Jersey, and the rest is history.
Long associated with the March of Dimes, serving as national chairman for many years.
Although he was nominated for seven Primetime Emmys for Barney Miller (1975), he won two Daytime Emmys for hosting a series of daytime informational spots called FYI: For Your Information (1980).
He was offered and turned down the lead role in St. Elsewhere (1982).
Linden met his wife, Frances, when she was a dancer. She got him an audition to understudy the lead male character, Jeff Moss (played by Sydney Chaplin) in the Broadway musical "Bells Are Ringing". Judy Holliday, star of the show (and the film version), attended the Lindens' wedding.
Best remembered by the public for his starring role on Barney Miller (1975), he built on his popularity from that show and toured as a solo singing act during the same period.
In 1984, he carried the Olympic Torch and ran a portion of the Los Angeles segment.
Both his family name Lipshitz and stage name Linden are derived from the words for "limetree" in Yiddish and German, respectively.
While he was in the Army, all the big band musicians had vanished and rock and roll was born.
Music ran in Linden's family. Played clarinet with the New York American Symphony at the age of fifteen. He also played saxophone in live jazz bands to earn a living when he was a young man. Linden was enlisted in the United States Army from 1952-54, where he played big band music. To calm his parents, he enrolled in City College of New York but left without graduating. He finally earned his diploma at age 69 and his mother was there to witness it.
Did not start acting until he was 25 years old.
Linden's parents were Charles Lipshitz, who owned a small printing firm. His mother, Frances (née Rosen) Lipshitz, was a housewife who died in 2001 at age 98. She enjoyed good health and was active throughout her life.
Alongside Norman Lloyd, William Daniels, Dick Van Dyke, Ernest Borgnine, Mickey Rooney, Christopher Lee, Betty White, Angela Lansbury, Edward Asner, Marla Gibbs, Adam West, William Shatner, Larry Hagman, Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones and Alan Alda, Linden is one of the few actors in Hollywood who lived into their 80s and/or 90s without ever either retiring from acting or having stopped getting work.
Worked as a voice over actor for Titra Studios. In fact, his voice is heard in many foreign films that were dubbed into English including several films in the "Godzilla" series.

Personal Quotes (16)

[About the [Barney Miller (1975)] role]: Joseph Wambaugh was once asked what was the most realistic cop show on TV, and he said it was Barney Miller. And this is a guy who had been a cop. Over the years I've talked to many policemen who've told me the same thing. I always ask them, 'How many times on the job have you had to pull your gun.' Nine times out of 10, the answer is, 'Never.' The job is more about paperwork. It's a grind.
I've noticed that on some of the commercial "voice overs" I've done, often times the background music is so loud, you can hardly hear the voice! The audio technicians seem to really be mixing the background too loud.
[About [Barney Miller (1975)]'s diverse cast not being groundbreaking at the time]: What it was was an incredibly well-written show. There were gang comedies all around when we started. The ones that were well-written lasted.
[When he started out as the star on Broadway]: It took me years to learn a technique.
I'm an actor, and I do my research.
[Who interpreted [Barney Miller (1975)] as a cult show, whilst playing in reruns, esp. in heavy syndication]: The guest actors were the stars, because the stories were about them. They weren't just passing through and fixing a television set. They were the stars, and they had the opportunity to really create characters with a beginning, a middle and an end. In a sense, it's the same thing with Jack. This series is not so much about Jack as about other people that we see through Jack's eyes.
I have a terrific relationship with all my grandchildren. Some are outgoing and loving, some are serious and respectful. I have eight different relationships with each different grandchild.
[on the popularity of [Barney Miller (1975)]]: Being in Barney Miller has done wonders for me and for my career. There are so many things I want to do, and I hope this will make them possible. There is so much acting that I haven't done because I couldn't get jobs. I haven't done feature films or classic theater. I've only done one major Broadway musical...
Judy Holliday was the most sharing actress I've ever worked with. I took her in my arms and I started singing, 'Just in time, I found you just in time.' All of a sudden, I felt her hand on my back, twisting me. I realized she was twisting me so I was facing the audience and not singing into the wings. How do you not fall in love? Her back was to the audience!
[About doing another Jewish play]: The Holocaust was a defining event of the century. I was a teenager when the [newsreel] footage started to come out at the end of the war about the concentration camps. It was horrifying. The script got me interested because it's very much of the moment again. I was just reading in this morning's paper about the IBM company's actions with Germany during World War II. So the issues are still with us.
[on the death of [Ron Glass]]: I knew Harris was a good detective, but suffered him gladly. Harris had an enormous ego, if you remember correctly. He was writing the great American novel, 'Blood on the Badge.'
[Who played characters where his real-life family inherited]: I drew on many experiences in my life to play the many memorable Jewish and non-Jewish characters that are magical moments in my life.
[Of his early performance]: I started as a kid musician. I was 13 when I started playing at local dances for $2.00 a night. I date my professional career from the time I joined the musicians' union at the age of 15. That was about 30 years ago!
[on touring in the 1950s]: I thought my career would always be performing with big bands. But the big band era didn't last forever; so, when it came to an end, I needed to find something else to do.
[About his role in [Stevie D (2016)]]: First of all, when you're playing an agent, already you're playing the enemy. [Laughs.] But he was a guy who spent his life trying to help people and doing the best he could, and the world just changed around him. When you're still making phone calls and everybody else is texting, you're in trouble... and that's unfortunately my life! Well, not actually my life. I text, I email. But there are still things I don't know how to do.
They've all got internet, watching everything we do here in New York.

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