Philip Baker Hall, a character actor famous for several comedic roles, died on June 12th from complications from emphysema.
Hall was a frequent collaborator with director Paul Thomas Anderson, notably appearing in Boogie Nights and Magnolia. He was also a mainstay as a character actor in various comedies, including M*A*S*H, Childrens Hospital, Rush Hour, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He’s also voiced characters in BoJack Horseman and The Life And Times Of Tim. Hall spent his career performing not only comedic roles but dramatic ones on both TV and movies.
However, the role that he is probably best known for among comedy fans and casual viewers came about on Seinfeld, where he played a surly detective in the library investigations unit. His character, Lt. Joe Bookman, was tracking down Jerry about an overdue library book.
Part of the humor came from Hall’s expert portrayal. The character spoke, acted and gesticulated like a hard-boiled detective from a contemporary cop show, which was performed completely straight by Hall. The result is a performance often cited by fans as the best guest appearance in the entire show.
The actor’s IMDb lists 185 credits, which include comedic and dramatic roles stretching over 50 years.