Donald George Calfa (December 3, 1939 – December 1, 2016) was an American film and television character actor whose credits spanned over 40 years, playing both comedic and dramatic roles. Although Calfa appeared in many high-profile films and television series, he was perhaps best known for his role as mortician Ernie Kaltenbrunner in the 1985 cult horror-comedy The Return of the Living Dead, and the bumbling hitman in Weekend at Bernie's.
Don Calfa with Living Dead co-stars Linnea Quigley and Beverly Randolph in 2007
Donald George Calfa
December 3, 1939
|Died||December 1, 2016 76) (aged|
Yucca Valley, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Trixie Flynn (1977-1981) (divorced)|
Early life and film career
Calfa was born on December 3, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in Ozone Park, Queens and later West Hempstead, Long Island. According to his official biography, Calfa was originally interested in pursuing a career in the fine arts, but diverted his interest to acting after seeing Rebel Without a Cause. He promptly dropped out of high school to join a theater workshop (later finishing his degree through night school), eventually joining both the Actors' Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. Before transitioning to film, Calfa worked heavily in theater, appearing in many Off-Off-Broadway productions and having performed on Broadway in 1965 in Mating Dance and in 1971 in Lenny.
Calfa worked steadily in both film and television for over 40 years, and worked alongside such high-profile actors and directors as Warren Beatty, Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Although he worked extensively as a dramatic actor, Calfa is perhaps best recognized for his comedic performances in various cult films, including as Paulie in Weekend at Bernie's, Scarface in Foul Play, Harold Grand in Treasure of the Moon Goddess and mad scientist Ralph Willum in Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.
Calfa was perhaps best known for his major role in the 1985 cult horror-comedy The Return of the Living Dead, in which he played the eccentric mortician Ernie Kaltenbrunner. He would later audition for the role of Doc Mandel in the 1988 sequel Return of the Living Dead Part II, which also featured several returning stars from the original, but the part ultimately went to Philip Bruns. In 1993, Calfa was set to play the character Colonel Peck in Return of the Living Dead III, but had to pull out of production due to personal reasons. He remained good friends with the rest of the Living Dead cast and crew, and made appearances alongside them at horror conventions and screenings of the film across the United States. Calfa was also interviewed for the 2012 documentary on the film, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead.
Calfa appeared in many other popular American television series, including Kojak (2 episodes), Baretta, The Streets of San Francisco (3 episodes), The Bionic Woman, Benson, Night Court, Simon & Simon, Hill Street Blues (2 episodes), Matlock, Twin Peaks, Doogie Howser, M.D. (3 episodes), Murder She Wrote (2 episodes), and Beverly Hills 90210 (3 episodes). He played a different character on 7 episodes of Barney Miller.
Personal life and death
Calfa was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He had been a close friend and colleague of fellow actor Richard Lynch since the 1960s, and acted alongside him in H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon (1993), Toughguy (1995), Corpses Are Forever (2003) and Lewisburg (2010). He was married to Trixie Flynn (from September 10, 1977 – August 26, 1981); the union ended in divorce.
Calfa died on December 1, 2016, at his home in Yucca Valley, California, two days before his 77th birthday.
|1968||No More Excuses||Priest||Directed by Robert Downey Sr.|
|1969||Utterly Without Redeeming Social Value||Peter DeCola|
|1970||Pound||Italian Terrier||Directed by Robert Downey Sr.|
|1972||Greaser's Palace||Morris||Directed by Robert Downey Sr.|
|1973||The Rainbow Boys||Mazella|
|Cinderella Liberty||Lewis||Directed by Mark Rydell|
|Bank Shot||Stosh Gornik|
|Shanks||Albert Einstein||Directed by William Castle|
|1976||Nickelodeon||Waldo||Directed by Peter Bogdanovich|
|1977||New York, New York||Gilbert||Directed by Martin Scorsese|
|1979||10||Neighbor||Directed by Blake Edwards|
|The Rose||Don Frank|
|1941||Telephone operator||Directed by Steven Spielberg|
|1981||The Postman Always Rings Twice||Goebel|
|1983||The Star Chamber||Lawrence Monk|
|Over Here, Mr. President||Wardell Slaughter|
|The Man Who Wasn't There||Tohfa|
|1984||E. Nick: A Legend in His Own Mind||E. 'Nick' Vanacuzzi||Starring role|
|1985||The Return of the Living Dead||Ernie Kaltenbrunner||Major role|
|1986||Running Scared||Women's Room Lawyer|
|Treasure of the Moon Goddess||Harold Grand||Major role|
|1988||The Presidio||Howard Buckely|
|1989||Weekend at Bernie's||Paulie||Major role|
|Chopper Chicks in Zombietown||Ralph Willum||Major role|
|1991||Bugsy||Louie Dragna||Directed by Barry Levinson|
|1992||Me, Myself and I||Irving||Major role|
|1993||H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon||Mr. Benedict||(part 3)|
|1995||Mr. Payback: An Interactive Movie||City Hall Guard||Video Game|
|Toughguy||Office Worker #1|
|Cobs n Roberts||Lance|
|Dr. Dolittle||Patient at Hammersmith|
|2002||The 4th Tenor||Bum #3|
|2003||Night Creep||Mr. Blunt|
|Corpses Are Forever||Jack Stark||Credited as Lance Fladoda|
|2011||More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead||Himself||Documentary film|
|1972||Goodnight, My Love||Bananas||Made for TV movie|
|The Delphi Bureau||Gunjamen||Episode: "The White Plague Project"|
|1973||The Blue Knight||Made for TV movie|
|Episode: "Marker to a Dead Bookie"|
Episode: "A House of Prayer, a Den of Thieves"
|1974–1977||The Streets of San Francisco||Larry Mason
Randolf J. "Moonshine" Fisher
|Episode: "Mister Nobody"|
Episode: "Poisoned Snow"
Episode: "A Good Cop...But"
|1976||Most Wanted||Episode: "Pilot"|
|Episode: "Contract for Harry"|
Episode: "The Avenger"
|1977–1981||Barney Miller||Mr. DiLucca
Calvin J. Kendall
|Episode: "Group Home"|
Episode: "Copy Cat"
Episode: "The Desk"
Episode: "The Vests"
|1977||Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected||Episode: "The Final Chapter"|
|1978||The Bionic Woman||Petie "The Weasel" Regan||Episode: "Rancho Outcast"|
|The Comedy Company||Harry Fenner||Made for TV movie|
|Steel Cowboy||"Go" Trucker||Made for TV movie|
|1979||The Runaways||Sam||Episode: "Dreams of My Father"|
|1980||Nobody's Perfect||Rosen||Episode: "What's on Third?"|
|1981||Park Place||Howie Beech||Recurring role (4 episodes)|
|Benson||Dr. Death||Episode: "The Grass Ain't Greener"|
|1982||The Day the Bubble Burst||Mr. Cinelli||Made for TV movie|
|1983||Allison Sydney Harrison||Pat Rosetti||Made for TV movie|
|Shooting Stars||Driscoll||Made for TV movie|
|1984||Legmen||Oscar Armismendi||Episode: "Poseidon Indenture"|
|Hill Street Blues||Oscar Foreman||Episode: "Eva's Brawn"|
|Night Court||Miles Seaver||Episode: "Billie and the Cat"|
|1985||Simon & Simon||Randall Deeds||Episode: "Slither"|
|Our Family Honor||Maltz||Episode: "Runaway Movie Queen"|
|Amazing Stories||Messenger||Episode: "The Amazing Falsworth"|
|1986||Blacke's Magic||Episode: "Wax Poetic"|
|Throb||Coyote Man||Episode: "My Fair Punker Lady"|
|1987||Private Eye||Made for TV movie|
|9 to 5||Janipopolous||Episode: "Love and Death"|
|1988, 1993||Murder, She Wrote||Clifford Coleson
|Episode: "Mr. Penroy's Vacation"|
Episode: "The Survivor"
|1988||Houston Knights||Episode: "Bad Paper"|
|1989||Mancuso, F.B.I.||Episode: "Murder of Pearl"|
|1990||Matlock||Andrew Sloan||Episode: "Nowhere to Turn"|
|Twin Peaks||Vice Principal Greege||Episode: "Episode 10 (uncredited) and Episode 17"|
|1990–1993||Doogie Howser, M.D.||Carmine Delpino||Recurring role (3 episodes)|
|1990, 1995||Columbo||Rudy||Episode: "Strange Bedfellows"|
Episode: "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"
|1993–1994||Beverly Hills, 90210||Mr. Pitts||Recurring role (3 episodes)|
|1994||Boy Meets World||Frank||Episode: "Who's Afraid of Cory Wolf?"|
|2003||Less Than Perfect||Uncle Nicky||Episode: "Save the Squirrel, But Bet the Over/Under"|
- Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2016. 2017-08-11. ISBN 9781476629124.
- "Don Calfa Biography". doncalfa.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Don Calfa – The Internet Broadway Database". Internet Broadway Database.
- "Don Calfa filmography". Internet Movie Database.
- "Don Calfa biodata". Internet Movie Database.
- Press, Associated (December 2, 2006). "Don Calfa, evil mortician in 'The Return of the Living Dead,' dies at 76". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- Barnes, Mike (December 2, 2006). "Don Calfa, the Mortician in 'The Return of the Living Dead' Dies at 76". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2016.