Second City’s Alan Arkin (1934-2023)

(Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin & Matthew Arkin at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony honoring Alan Arkin. Pictures: Paul Smith/Featureflash)

Alan Arkin, an esteemed American actor, director, and musician, who carved an indelible mark on the entertainment industry with his exceptional talent and multifaceted skills has died at 89.

His death was confirmed to PEOPLE Magazine exclusively by his sons Adam, Matthew and Anthony. The three offered a statement on behalf of the family: “Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed.”

Renowned for his versatility and ability to bring depth and nuance to every role, Arkin has left an enduring impact on stage, screen, and beyond. With an illustrious career spanning several decades, he is celebrated as one of the most accomplished performers of his generation.

Born on March 26, 1934, in New York City, Alan Wolf Arkin grew up in a family with a deep appreciation for the arts. From an early age, he demonstrated a natural affinity for performance and a keen sense of comedic timing. Arkin honed his skills by studying drama at Los Angeles City College and later at Bennington College in Vermont.

Arkin’s professional journey commenced in the late 1950s when he ventured into the world of theater. He gained recognition for his exceptional stage performances, including his work with the prestigious Second City improvisational comedy troupe in Chicago. His theatrical accomplishments were acknowledged with a Tony Award nomination for his role in the Broadway production of Enter Laughing in 1963.

“Second City saved my life. It literally saved my life,” Arkin said. “I have a feeling it’s true for a lot of other people, too.”

In the realm of cinema, Arkin made an indelible impression with his captivating performances. His breakthrough came with the dark comedy film The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966), where he showcased his impeccable comedic timing and expressive face. The role earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, marking the beginning of a long and illustrious film career.

Arkin continued to mesmerize audiences with his captivating portrayals in a wide range of films. His ability to seamlessly transition between drama and comedy demonstrated his remarkable versatility as an actor. Notable films in his extensive repertoire include Catch-22 (1970), The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), and Argo (2012), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Arkin’s performances have garnered critical acclaim, numerous accolades, and the admiration of fellow actors and filmmakers.

Beyond his acting prowess, Arkin has showcased his directorial skills with films like Fire Sale (1977) and Little Murders (1971). As a filmmaker, he brought his distinctive vision and storytelling sensibilities to the screen, further cementing his reputation as a multifaceted artist.

Most recently, Arkin costarred in The Kominsky Method for Netflix with Michael Douglas. He earned Emmy nominations in 2019 and 2020, and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations in 2020 and 2021


Arkin’s talent extended beyond acting and directing, as he is also an accomplished musician. He is a skilled folk singer and has released several albums throughout his career. His musical talents have often been incorporated into his acting roles, adding another layer of depth to his performances.

While Arkin has achieved remarkable success and garnered numerous awards throughout his career, he remains humble and grounded. Known for his dedication to his craft and unwavering commitment to authenticity, he has inspired generations of actors and continues to captivate audiences with his magnetic presence.

Off-screen, Arkin is a devoted family man. He has been married to his wife, psychotherapist and author Suzanne Newlander Arkin, since 1996. Together, they have raised a loving family and have become pillars of support for each other in their respective careers.

His son, Adam Arkin, 66, is also a well-known actor and director who has starred on TV hits including Chicago Hope8 Simple Rules and Sons of Anarchy.

Arkin’s contributions to the world of entertainment are immeasurable. Whether through his magnetic performances, his insightful directing, or his soulful music, he has left an indelible mark on the industry. With a legacy built on exceptional talent and artistic integrity, Alan Arkin will forever be revered as an icon of the stage and screen, a true artist whose work continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the globe.

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