Philip "Fyvush" Finkel (1922 - 2016)

Fyvush Finkel, the actor who won an Emmy Award for his performance as lawyer Douglas Wambaugh on "Picket Fences," died Aug. 14, 2016. He was 93.

Born Philip Finkel Oct. 9, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of Jewish immigrants, a Polish father and Belarusian mother. He began acting as a child, working onstage in New York's Yiddish theaters. But in high school, he considered breaking out of the business and began studying to become a furrier instead.

The call of the stage proved too strong, however, and Finkel was back at it after he graduated, performing stand-up comedy on the Catskills' borscht circuit as well as continuing his stage acting. He made the move to Broadway in the 1960s, appearing in "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Little Shop of Horrors."


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Finkel had several movie and TV roles in the years leading to his greatest fame: on the big screen in movies including "Off Beat" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs," and on TV in an episode of "Kojak." But it was in 1992, when he joined the cast of the new David E. Kelley TV show, "Picket Fences," that Finkel truly became known to a wider audience. He was 70 when he took on the role of the eccentric attorney, and when he won his Emmy Award for the portrayal in 1994, he commented, "I waited 51 years to get on this stage!"

Finkel's success on "Picket Fences" led Kelley to approach him for a later program, "Boston Public." For four seasons, from 2000 to 2004, Finkel played history teacher Harvey Lipschultz. Other notable TV appearances included a role on the 1998 revival of "Fantasy Island," a guest spot on "The Simpsons," and 10 episodes of "Hollywood Squares." Finkel also continued to appear in movies, including 1995's "Nixon" and 2009's "A Serious Man."

Finkel is survived by his sons, Ian and Elliot. He was preceded in death by his wife, Trudi Lieberman, in 2008 after a marriage that lasted more than 60 years.

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