Today we learned that veteran actor Alan Arkin has passed away at the age of 89. It’s strange to think of Arkin as the “Oscar winner from Little Miss Sunshine.” Yes, he was that, but his Oscar win came unforgivably late in his career (he should have won for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter) and that career spanned 60+ years of unforgettable performances. He was cool as hell, and bedraggled. Hilarious with the ability to make you burst into tears. The only person with his range that comes to mind is Robin Williams — two diametrically opposed personas where one is remembered most for manic glee and the other for rough-edged heart, even though both were more than capable of both.
For those looking to dig beyond his later-in-life roles, The New York Times has an excellent chronicle from his Tony-winning start through to his crotchety grandpa status.
After Arkin’s death, celebrities and fans have shown their appreciation by telling stories and sharing favorite clips. The list of celebs includes Rob Reiner, Natasha Lyonne, John Cusack, Paul Reiser, Michael McKean, Patton Oswalt, and Frank Oz, who described Arkin as “An extraordinary, undefinable talent & unique human-being-mensch.”
So sad to hear about Alan Arkin. A brilliant actor who was a thrill to work with and a thrill to watch work.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) June 30, 2023
I love this man so much. The favorite of all my movie dads and so brilliant,
inspiring and kind for so long. ♥️♥️ https://t.co/IK44X85oDQ
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) June 30, 2023
“ At one point, Alan Arkin requested to do a last-minute rewrite of a scene, which made a handful of studio execs mighty uncomfortable. According to Cusack, he assured them, saying "Don't worry. That's Alan Arkin. Anything he's gonna do is gonna make this thing even better “… pic.twitter.com/kad9gNz24R
— John Cusack (@johncusack) June 30, 2023
A world without Alan Arkin is …not so great. I’ve loved this man from the moment he came on screen in “The Russians Are Coming..” (“Whitaker Walt!l) I was 8. Getting to know him – and getting a laugh out of him – is a highlight of my life. RIP dear friend.
— Paul Reiser (@PaulReiser) June 30, 2023
David Lander and I got to know him a little through his talented son, Adam, in the late '70s, and I got to work with him in Mexico in 2002. Charming, hilarious, and armed with a flawless bullshit detector, he was pure pleasure to be with.
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) June 30, 2023
Did ANYONE have the range Alan Arkin had? Hilarious, sinister, insane, tragic. No mood he couldn’t live in. RIP. pic.twitter.com/pUVa5j8Tqc
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) June 30, 2023
This one hurts—losing Alan. After appearing on The Muppet Show we became affectionate pen-pals. An extraordinary, undefinable talent & unique human-being-mensch. Alan would hate maudlin things being said about him.Okay, Alan. I'll stop. But if you don't hear from me, I blame you
— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) June 30, 2023
Speaking of Oz, Muppet History offered some of the best pics of Arkin interacting with Muppets:
Whether it be The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, or The Muppets (2011); Alan Arkin always brought a level of comedic gold.
A true talent. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/s5FaZMJkGJ
— Muppet History 🎓 (@HistoryMuppet) June 30, 2023
Michael “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” Buffer also shared a culture-breaking photograph of Arkin, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert DeNiro on the set of Grudge Match.
ALAN ARKIN HAS PASSED AWAY💔
It was an honor to have worked w/the legendary Oscar winner-4time nominee-in the film GRUDGE MATCH in 2013!
He was a brilliant talent & a gentleman!
R.I.P. Mr. Alan Arkin w/Love & Respect🕊 pic.twitter.com/nxGM5vNN9x
— Michael Buffer (@Michael_Buffer) June 30, 2023
Naturally, fans shared some favorite scenes and movie moments. Serpentine your way through them.
Rest in Peace Alan Arkin.
A fine actor and musician who gave us some the greatest film performances of our life time.
The In Laws (1979)
— Danny Deraney (@DannyDeraney) June 30, 2023
Alan Arkin made an impression on me as a young man. Mike Nichols and Buck Henry's adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is a brilliant movie and stands the test of time. Arkin's Yossarian character speaks to me still. #ripAlanArkin pic.twitter.com/XSxejnzbRP
— 🍀 Ed Murray (@EdwardMurrayIII) June 30, 2023
Alan Arkin is the epitome of how I feel about today.
RIP to a fucking legend. pic.twitter.com/mvRZCG1cMY
— BJ Colangelo SUPPORT THE WGA! (@bjcolangelo) June 30, 2023
Alan Arkin in WAIT UNTIL DARK is profoundly terrifying in a way I lacked the vocabulary to fully articulate the first time I saw the film. I still might.
— Linda Holmes thisislindaholmes.com (@lindaholmes) June 30, 2023
Appreciation post for Alan Arkin and his role in Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn pic.twitter.com/HECRpduWT2
— Audrey Hepburn (@SoAudreyHepburn) June 30, 2023
I first saw The Rocketeer on July 27th 1991. That would be the first time I saw Alan Arkin in anything. Since that day, seeing him in any role, of any size, was a pleasure.
Look how much he packs into this last line. The writing is clear and great, but he does SO much with it 💙 pic.twitter.com/qBTnoSYbgB
— Simon Underwood (@si_underwood) June 30, 2023
That includes an appreciation from BoJack Horseman writer Alison Flierl for Arkin’s short-but-instantly-memorable voice performance:
@ScottChernoff & I were lucky enough to write words that the amazingly talented Alan Arkin spoke on #BoJackHorseman. He's such a legend and was the actor who gives 110% even when he's voicing J.D. Salinger as a game show producer on a crazy animated show. https://t.co/7cLHR5Vx4U
— Alison Fully Vaccinated Flierl (@2degreesofalie) June 30, 2023
And Paste Movies Editor Jacob Oller shared some absolutely wild Arkin trivia:
Crazy Alan Arkin trivia:
Before earning a Tony for his first starring stage role and an Oscar nomination for his first credited screen appearance, his calypso band's version of "The Banana Boat Song" charted alongside Harry Belafonte'shttps://t.co/AJW6HIOu4I https://t.co/rHh1L7nGjq
— Jacob Oller (@JacobOller) June 30, 2023
No matter how you’re honoring this acting titan, enjoy bursting into tears for the rest of the day: