Earl Boen, Instantly Recognizable Character Actor, Dies @ 81

It's hard to believe the late character actor Earl Boen was only 81; he has seemed to be everywhere for so long, I assumed he was 10 years older.

Another Seinfeld guest star has died. (Image via video still)

In fact, the hard-working thesp worked on the stage as a teen in the '50s until the mid-'70s before making his TV debut (following a couple of filmed plays) on an episode of The Streets of San Francisco (1977).

In the space of that first year in Hollywood, he had guested on that show as well as What's Happening!!, Kojak, Rafferty, Hawaii Five-O and Wonder Woman, as well as making his film debut in that same year's Mr. Billion, with Jackie Gleason (1916-1987), in indication of how in-demand he was.

Boen had a panache for playing villainous weasels and, sometimes, uptight men of the cloth. His comic timing was impeccable, creating more of an impression, usually, than the specific shows on which he appeared.

Co-star Michael Biehn said Boen was hired by director James Cameron for The Terminator because he was "special." (GIF via GIPHY)

Still, when Boen died January 5, 2023, in Hawaii after a short battle with stage 4 lung cancer, he did so with countless viewers recalling him as Dr. Silberman in The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), as well as for his work as the reverend on Mama's Family (1983-1987).

I also recall him from that famous "The Pony Remark" 1991 episode of Seinfeld. With his death, that makes an incredible nine Seinfeld figures to die in the space of one year, including George Shapiro, Liz Sheridan, Estelle Harris, Rae Allen, Philip Baker Hall, Kathryn Kates, Sonya Eddy and Richard Roat.

Boen also appeared in such films as The Main Event (1979), 9 to 5 (1980), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983), To Be or Not to Be (1983), Alien Nation (1988) and Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult (1994).

Boen retired from live-action work in 2003, but his voice work accounted for nearly half of his nearly 300 credits, including work as diverse as Clifford the Big Red Dog (2000-2002) on TV and narrating a half dozen World of Warcraft video games (2007-2016). His final voice work came with 2017's Girls Mode 4: Star Stylist.

Boen was preceded in death by first wife Carole Kean, an actress. He is survived by his wife Cathy, his daughter and his two grandkids.

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