Richard Erdman

John Richard Erdman (June 1, 1925 – March 16, 2019) was an American actor and occasional director.[1] He appeared in more than 160 films, television and theater productions between 1944 and 2017, mostly in supporting roles.[2]

Richard Erdman
Erdman in The Admiral Was a Lady (1950)
John Richard Erdmann

(1925-06-01)June 1, 1925
Enid, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedMarch 16, 2019(2019-03-16) (aged 93)
Other namesDick Erdman
  • Actor
  • director
Years active1944–2017
  • Leza Holland
    (m. 1948; div. 1950)
  • Sharon Randall
    (m. 1953; died 2016)

Early life and career

Erdman was born John Richard Erdmann in Enid in northern Oklahoma. His mother was Allie J. Erdman. His parents divorced during his childhood. Erdman, his sibling, and his mother moved to Colorado Springs when he was a teenager. He graduated from Palmer High School, where he would perform on stage. During his youth, he worked as a paper boy for the Colorado Springs Evening Telegraph. A stage director named Newton Winburne encouraged him to try his luck in Hollywood.[3]

Erdman started his career at Warner Bros. where he signed a studio contract. Two of his first roles were in the films Mr. Skeffington, starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains and Janie, starring Joyce Reynolds. After a few smaller roles he achieved success as a character actor in supporting roles. In a career that spanned seven decades, his best-known roles are that of the barracks chief Hoffy in Stalag 17, and the garrulous, tedious barfly McNulty in the Twilight Zone episode "A Kind of a Stopwatch". He also appeared in The Men (1950) with Marlon Brando and the film noir Cry Danger (1951) with Dick Powell and Rhonda Fleming. In Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) he played Colonel Edward F. French, the officer who responded to the failure to transmit the warning to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

He directed the 1971 TV film Mooch Goes to Hollywood.[4] From 2009 to 2015, Erdman had a recurring role as the old student Leonard Rodriguez on Community. His last role was in 2017 in the sitcom Dr. Ken.

Personal life and death

Erdman married actress Leza Holland in 1948, but they divorced two years later. He was married to his second wife, Sharon Randall, from 1953 until her death in 2016. They had one daughter, Erica, who was born in 1954 and died on February 18, 2010, of an accidental overdose of prescription medicine.[5] Erica was a poet and illustrator (The Ellyn Maybe Coloring Book) and the author of one full-length collection of poems (The Apocalyptic Kid).

Erdman died on March 16, 2019, aged 93, in an assisted-living facility in Los Angeles, California. He had been suffering "from age-related dementia" and recently had a fall.[6]

Selected filmography

Film appearances

Television appearances (selected)

Richard Erdman as a director


  1. "Richard Erdman". The New York Times.
  2. Valentine, Dan (July 21, 1967). "Nothing Serious". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  3. Aldridge, Dorothy (October 14, 1972). "A Character Actor Career Which Began Here Spins a 30-year Cycle, Climaxing in Colorado". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  4. "Mooch Goes to Hollywood". The New York Times.
  5. "Erica E. Erdman". Los Angeles Times. February 26, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  6. Richard Erdman, Actor in Stalag 17 and TV's Community, Dies at 93,; accessed March 17, 2019.
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