Actor Jason Wingreen, perhaps best known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and to legions of TV viewers as Harry the bartender in All In The Family and Archie Bunker’s Place, has died. Wingreen, who also was one of the co-founders of the Circle in the Square Theatre in Greenwich Village, was 95 and died Christmas Day at his home in Los Angeles.
On Broadway, the Brooklyn native played a police inspector in The Girl On The Via Flaminia and PFC Snowden in Fragile Rock, both in 1954.
Wingreen co-founded Circle in the Square with Theodore Mann, Jose Quintero, Aileen Cramer, Ed Mann, and Emily Stevens in 1951, according to Broadway World. At that time the theater was located on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, but it evolved into a Broadway theater and moved to 50th Street, where the Tony Award-winning Fun Home is currently running.
In 1958, Wingreen had the small part of Nichols in the 20th Century Fox production The Bravados which starred Gregory Peck, Joan Collins and Stephen Boyd. Much later he played a doctor from the Mayo Clinic in 1980’s hilarious sendup of airborne catastrophe movies, Airplane. His character was seen speaking on the phone as a beating heart danced across his desk.
But the vast majority of Wingreen’s prolific career was in television, where he amassed well over a hundred credits on dozens of series. He had multiple appearances on The Untouchables and Matlock, and he portrayed 18 characters over six episodes of The Fugitive, six on The FBI and another six on Ironside. He also worked on three episodes of Rod Serling’s original The Twilight Zone — “A Stop at Willoughby,” “The Midnight Sun,” and “The Bard.”
He also appeared in the series Mission: Impossible, The Outer Limits, The Invaders, Bonanza, The Rockford Files and the TV miniseries Roots: The Next Generations. He also racked up multiple appearances on Kojak and Love American Style.
Wingreen’s longest stint on TV was as Harry Snowden, a bartender who lent his ear to the characters in All In The Family and Archie Bunker’s Place. Wingreen appeared in more than 117 episodes between 1976 and 1983.
His last credited TV work was on In The Heat Of The Night in 1994 and on Seinfeld in 1992.
Wingreen became known to fans as the uncredited voice of bounty hunter Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back, but in a later remastered version his voice was replaced by that of Temuera Morrison (who portrayed Jango Fett: father of the clone bounty hunter and the clone troopers in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones).
Wingreen also appeared as Dr. Linke in the original Star Trek episode “The Empath,” which gave him the rare distinction of having worked on TV’s Star Trek as well as in a Star Wars picture.