Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Top Five Phil Leeds Sitcom Performances

1. Blackie Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show (the episode "Hustling the Hustler"): A stirring appearance as Buddy's black-sheep pool-hustling brother, who hustles Rob in his own basement just to make a big show of not taking the money from him. An Oscar-worthy performance, were this a movie.

2. J. Jackie Silver on Happy Days ("Goin' to Chicago): Leeds portrays the sleazy emcee at a burlesque show in Chicago which Richie, Ralph and Potsie are attending. Great character name, innit?

3. Salty on The Odd Couple ("And Leave the Greyhound to Us?"): A nice turn with Leeds typecast as a degenerate gambler, although the piece is generous enough toward him to show him both at the depths of his loserdom (when he loses his racing greyhound to Oscar after an all-night poker game) and, later, as a deep-pocketed winner at the dog track. Extra points for the long, stringy rat hair.

4. Lettier on Barney Miller ("The Photographer"): One of seven of Leeds' "Barney Miller" appearances; in this one he pretends to be a photographer to get up close to women in order to mug them. I don't remember if there was a joke on the term "mug shot."

5. Abe on The Jackie Thomas Show ("Strike"): Actually, I don't recall this appearance, but I wanted an excuse to point out that The Jackie Thomas Show - in case you've forgotten, it was Tom Arnold's sitcom that he got as sort of a reward for marrying Roseanne - was better than it had a right to be. And just about any show can be made better with a little Phil Leeds.


MJN said...

He's also fondly remembered as Uncle Mel on "Everybody Loves Raymond". Did anybody appear on more different TV shows in the '90s than Phil Leeds?

T. Nawrocki said...

I must be the one guy who doesn't love Raymond - I've only seen that show a handful of times, and I never saw Phil Leeds on it. If they really wanted it to be popular, they should have called it "Everybody Loves Phil Leeds."

I'm not going to try to do a count by decade, but according to tv.com, Phil Leeds had two regular roles on series, three recurring roles, and a whopping 99 guest appearances, on, by my count, 69 different shows.