Martin Mull, Acerbic Comedian and Actor, Dead at 80

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Certain deaths hit us differently, even when it comes to people from the entertainment world. Martin Mull’s is one like that. The acerbic comedian and actor died at home in Los Angeles on Thursday at age 80, according to a statement his family posted to Instagram on Saturday.


His heartbroken daughter, Maggie Mull, wrote: 

“He was known for excelling at every creative discipline imaginable and also for doing Red Roof Inn commercials. He would find that joke funny. He was never not funny. My dad will be deeply missed by his wife and daughter, by his friends and coworkers, by fellow artists and comedians and musicians, and — the sign of a truly exceptional person — by many, many dogs. I loved him tremendously.”

via the Hollywood Reporter:

Martin Eugene Mull was born in Chicago on Aug. 18, 1943. His father, Harold, was a carpenter, and his mother, Betty, an actress and director. He was raised in North Ridgeville, Ohio, and New Canaan, Connecticut.

His original plan was to become a painter, and he studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, receiving a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s in painting. To earn money for tuition, Mull organized bands, and the experience opened his eyes to the world of entertainment. 

However, it was as Garth and Barth Gimble, the very different identical twins from Fernwood, Ohio — the mythical setting for the Norman Lear-produced Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman — that placed Mull in the national spotlight.

The clever Mull starred with frequent collaborator Fred Willard and co-wrote the 1985 Cinemax mockumentary The History of White People in America and its 1986 sequel. He also portrayed Colonel Mustard on the big screen in Clue (1985). 


Some readers might also recognize Mull from his role on Roseanne Barr’s eponymous hit sitcom in the 1990s, as the boss at the diner where she worked.

As THR noted, though, he kept his hand in up to current shows, both as a featured actor and a recurring player:

More recently, he was one of the old guys on the Fox sitcom The Cool Kids and an acid-tripping attorney on Netflix’s The Ranch and recurred on ABC’s Not Dead Yet.

He was also a recent guest on “Life in Pieces,” a show on which his daughter Maggie serves as a writer-producer. 

On a personal note, I most remember him from the ’80s comedy, “Mr. Mom,” as the lecherous boss of the wife (Teri Garr) who went back to work, while her white-collar husband (Michael Keaton) attempted to stay home with the kids. There were also his hilarious stand-up routines and guest appearances on “The Tonight Show,” when it was still hosted by Johnny Carson. Mull always had a quirky way of looking at the world that stood out from other, perhaps slicker comics of the era. And if you missed “The Cool Kids,” it’s worth digging into on a streaming service. It was a shame it never found an audience, I think.


Mull is survived by, among others, his wife, Wendy Haas (they got married in 1982), and his daughter Maggie, who seems to be carrying on his memorable legacy in television.

Here’s a classic scene that shows the rivalry between the characters played by Mull and a pre-“Batman” Keaton in “Mr. Mom”:

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Rest in peace.

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