Oscar winner Alan Arkin dies at 89

American actor Alan Arkin, Oscar winner for “Little Miss Sunshine” and known for his particular touch of serious humor in his performances, has died at the age of 89 in the United States, his family reported Friday.

“A loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he was loved and will be sorely missed,” said Arkin’s sons Adam, Matthew and Anthony, who also work in the entertainment industry.

“He was a unique talent, a force of nature both as an artist and as a man.”

The cause of death was not reported.

Arkin, with six decades of experience in film and television, including titles such as “Argo” and more recently the series “The Kominsky Method”, along with Michael Douglas, won, in addition to the Academy Award, a Tony for his work on Broadway in 1963 with the play “Enter Laughing”.

His trademark style of acid humor made him unmistakable on screen, where he built a versatile resume as he dabbled in music.

After the announcement, social networks were filled with messages of regret.

“It was a privilege to work with him on ‘The Last Unicorn,'” actress Mia Farrow tweeted. “To me he will always be ‘Schmendrick’, my invaluable wizard companion in our search for other unicorns.”

“Very sad,” filmmaker Rob Reiner wrote. “A brilliant actor with whom he was always a delight to work with.”

– “Everything is improvisation” –

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 26, 1934, to a family of Russian and German Jewish immigrants, Arkin took acting classes from an early age.

His family moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s, where he won acting scholarships at various colleges in the film mecca, but he dropped out to form a folk band in 1955.

With the group The Tarriers he sealed the success “The Banana Boat Song”, and the following decade he alternated between music and acting.

He made his Broadway debut in “From the Second City.”

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He was first nominated for a best actor Oscar for his leading role in the 1966 comedy “Here Come the Russians, Here Come the Russians!”, in which he played a Soviet sailor who is mistaken for a spy.

He then shared the screen with Audrey Hepburn in 1967’s “Wait for Darkness,” and was again nominated for an Academy Award for 1968’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

Many critics say Arkin’s best performance was in 1970’s “Catch 22,” a film adaptation of Joseph Heller’s tragicomic war novel.

The actor moved steadily between stage, television and the big screen from the 1970s to the 1990s, with roles in films such as “Young Scissorhands” (1990) and “A Sign of Hope” (1999).

He himself shaped the past of his Oscar-winning character in “Little Miss Sunshine,” making Grandpa Hoover a retired saxophonist with a penchant for drugs and strip clubs.

“I love down-and-out characters who philosophize,” Arkin said of the role. “He’s there, crazy and exposed.”

He earned another Oscar nomination in 2013 for the winner “Argo,” in which he stars as a Hollywood producer who brings humor to the tense film about the hostages in Iran.

Arkin thanked his beginnings as an improv performer for having taught him many lessons, the main one being, he said, failure.

“The public came in knowing that they were going to see something go wrong, and that was fine,” he said in an interview with the LA Times in 2008. “But now if you fail, it’s a moral issue that’s bad for the number machines.”

“But one of the things I learned from improvising is that everything in life is improvisation, whether you like it or not.”

“Some of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century were made when people dropped something.”

Arkin leaves behind his wife Suzanne, as well as their three children, four grandchildren, and his great-grandson Elliott.

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