Steve Landesberg first came into view for me as a stand-up performing on TV. He did dialects.
His signature bit was about a southern sheriff whom he did in a deep southern drawl. The sheriff was talking about hippies and war protesters and one particular guy who was singing a folk song, “Stomping on the Flag.” Finally at the end the sheriff says,
“Stomping on the flag? Stomping on the flag?
It had a catchy beat.”
In the mid-70s Landesberg appeared on a forgotten piece of the CBS killer Saturday lineup (Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore) “Paul Sands in Friends and Lovers.” It was a comedy built around players in a symphony orchestra. Landesberg played an Austrian violinist, Fred Meyerbach.
I loved that show, but was obviously in a small minority. It was gone quickly. There isn’t even a YouTube clip available!
Steve Landesberg’s accent was so good that when Barney Miller was being cast Landesberg was originally turned down without an audition. The producer couldn’t imagine a New York City detective with an Austrian accent!
“He was acting,” his agent finally pleaded. He got the gig playing Detective Dietrich.
It’s been a long time since I saw Steve Landesberg perform. I know he made “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” which I didn’t see (but which many people liked) and a few obscure TV series including one on Starz. Earlier he’d done commercials, always in a deadpan.
Back in the day I just assumed he’d be a bigger star.
Steve Landesberg was 65.