Seymour Cassel
Cassel in 2007
Seymour Joseph Cassel

(1935-01-22)January 22, 1935
DiedApril 7, 2019(2019-04-07) (aged 84)
Years active1959–2015
Elizabeth Deering
(m. 1964; div. 1983)

Seymour Joseph Cassel (January 22, 1935 – April 7, 2019) was an American actor who appeared in over 200 films and television shows, with a career spanning over 50 years.[1] He first came to prominence in the 1960s in the pioneering independent films of writer/director John Cassavetes. The first of these was Too Late Blues (1961), followed by Faces (1968), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and won a National Society of Film Critics Award. Cassel went on to appear in Cassavetes' Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Opening Night (1977), and Love Streams (1984). He also appeared in other notable films, including: Coogan's Bluff (1968), The Last Tycoon (1976), Valentino (1977), Convoy (1978), Johnny Be Good (1988), Mobsters (1991), In the Soup (1992), Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), The Sleepy Time Gal (2001), Beer League (2006), and Fort McCoy (2011). Like Cassavetes, Wes Anderson frequently cast Cassel – first in Rushmore (1998), then in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and finally in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).

Early life

Cassel was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Pancretia Ann (née Kearney), a performer, and Seymour Joseph Cassel, a nightclub owner.[2][3]

His mother was remarried to a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces, and the family moved to Panama, where Cassel's stepfather was said to have won a nightclub in a game of craps. After his mother filed for divorce in the late 1940s, she sent Seymour to live with his godmother in Detroit, where he soon joined a gang. He later said that at 17, he was given a choice: join the Navy, or go to jail. He picked the military, and after three years of service and a brief stint in college, he returned to Detroit, where he built props for a theater company and took small acting roles. Convinced he had a future in theater, he bought a bus ticket to New York, only to bomb at an Actors Studio audition.[4]


Seymour Cassel in 1995

Cassel's early career was tied to fellow actor John Cassavetes, who was informally part of his clan of actors.[5] He made his film debut in Cassavetes' first film, Shadows, on which he also served as associate producer. In 1961 he co-starred with Cassavetes in Too Late Blues and 1962's The Webster Boy.

Cassel also appeared in The Lloyd Bridges Show in the episode "A Pair of Boots", directed by his friend Cassavetes. Cassel appeared on such popular programs as Twelve O'Clock High, Combat!, and The F.B.I. He also appeared as "Cancelled", one of Colonel Gumm's henchmen in the 1960s Batman TV episode "A Piece of the Action", which also featured guest stars Van Williams and Bruce Lee as The Green Hornet and Kato, respectively.

In 1968, Cassel was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Chet in John Cassavetes's Faces. Other collaborations with Cassavetes included a starring role with Gena Rowlands in Minnie and Moskowitz, supporting roles in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Love Streams, and a cameo appearance in Opening Night.

Cassel appeared in many major Hollywood productions such as Dick Tracy, Tin Men, and Indecent Proposal. He was also very supportive of the American independent film community, especially in the wake of Cassavetes's death. Cassel had a small role in Steve Buscemi's directorial debut Trees Lounge and appeared in three films by Wes Anderson: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic. He had a featured role alongside Jacqueline Bisset in Christopher Münch's critically acclaimed low-budget drama The Sleepy Time Gal. Cassel appeared for four seasons on comedian Tracey Ullman's television series Tracey Takes On....

Personal life

Cassel married Elizabeth Deering in 1964; they had two children before divorcing in 1983.

Guitarist Slash, who was childhood friends with Cassel's son, credited Cassel with giving him his nickname, because he was "always zipping from one place to another and never sitting still."[6]

Cassel died on April 7, 2019, aged 84, of Alzheimer's disease.[7]


In 2009, the San Diego Film Festival awarded the actor with the Indie Icon Award.[8]

In September 2007, Cassel was a candidate for national president of the Screen Actors Guild, along with Charley M. De La Peña, Alan Rosenberg (incumbent), and Barry Simmonds.

In 2009, Cassel was once again a candidate for national president of the Screen Actors Guild along with Anne Marie Johnson and Ken Howard. Howard was the eventual winner.

In 2012, the Oldenburg Film Festival in Germany introduced an actors' prize named the Seymour Cassel Award.[9]

He won the National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Faces.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1958 Shadows Minor role Uncredited
1960 Man on a String Hotel Pageboy Uncredited
1960 Juke Box Racket Seymour
1960 Murder, Inc. Teenager Uncredited
1961 Too Late Blues Red
1962 The Webster Boy Vic
1963 The Nutty Professor Bored Man Uncredited
1964 The Killers Postal Clerk
1968 Coogan's Bluff John, Young Hood
1968 Faces Chet Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor[11]
1968 The Sweet Ride Surfer, Cyclist Uncredited
1970 The Revolutionary Leonard II
1971 Minnie and Moskowitz Moskowitz
1975 Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight Wise Guy Uncredited
1976 The Killing of a Chinese Bookie Mort Weil
1976 The Last Tycoon Seal Trainer Credited as Seymour Cassell
1977 Death Game George Manning
1977 Black Oak Conspiracy Homer Metcalf
1977 Valentino George Ullman
1977 Scott Joplin Dr. Jaelki Credited as Seymour Cassell
1977 Opening Night unknown role Uncredited
1978 Convoy Govorner Haskins
1979 California Dreaming Duke Slusarski
1979 Ravagers Blind Lawyer
1979 Sunburn Dobbs
1980 The Mountain Men La Bont
1980 The Jazz Singer Unnamed
1981 King of the Mountain Barry Tanner
1982 Double Exposure Dr. Frank Curtis
1984 Love Streams Jack Lawson
1986 Eye of the Tiger Sheriff
1987 Tin Men Cheese
1987 Best Seller Carter Uncredited
1987 Survival Game Dave Forrest
1987 Plain Clothes Ed Malmburg
1988 Johnny Be Good Wallace Gibson
1988 Colors Sullivan
1988 Track 29 Dr. Bernard
1989 Wicked Stepmother Feldshine, Magick Shop Owner
1990 Dick Tracy Sam Catchem
1990 Cold Dog Soup Jojo
1991 White Fang Skunker
1991 Mobsters Father Bonotto
1991 Cold Heaven Tom Farrelly
1991 Diary of a Hitman Koenig
1992 In the Soup Joe
1992 Bad Love Uncle Bud
1992 Chain of Desire Mel
1992 Honeymoon in Vegas Tony Cataracts
1992 Adventures in Spying Ray Rucker
1992 What Happened to Pete Bartender Short
1993 Trouble Bound Santino
1993 Indecent Proposal Mr. Shackleford
1993 Boiling Point Leach
1993 When Pigs Fly Frank
1994 Hand Gun Jack McCallister
1994 Chasers Master Chief Bogg
1994 It Could Happen to You Jack Gross
1994 There Goes My Baby Pop
1994 Dark Side of Genius Samuel Rourke
1994 Imaginary Crimes Eddie
1994 Whew! unknown role Short
1994 Tollbooth Larry, Leon
1995 Dead Presidents Saul Uncredited
1996 Things I Never Told You Frank
1996 Dream for an Insomniac Uncle Leo
1996 Trees Lounge Uncle Al
1996 Slaughter of the Cock Ahilleas
1996 Dead Girl Ira Golub
1996 Chameleon Francis
1996 Juicehead Dr. Watt Short
1996 Turnpike Older man Short
1996 The Last Home Run Older Jonathan
1996 Seed First Client Short
1997 This World, Then the Fireworks Detective Harris
1997 Cannes Man Sy Lerner
1997 Obsession Jacob Frischumuth
1997 Motel Blue Capistrano Minister
1998 Johnny 316 Minor Role
1998 Relax...It's Just Sex Emile Pillsbury
1998 Hoods Pop Martinelli Uncredited
1998 The Treat Chip O'Herlihee
1998 Snapped Bob
1998 Rushmore Bert Fischer
1998 Stingers unknown role
1999 Getting to Know You unknown role
1999 Temps Arthur, the studio president
1999 Ballad of the Nightingale Jimmy
1999 Smoking Cuban Style Dragan
1999 Me and Will Roy
1999 Black and White Sal
2000 Animal Factory Lieutenant Seeman
2000 The Crew Tony "Mouth" Donato
2000 Just One Night Arthur Imperial
2000 Next Stop, Eternity Lawrence Short
2001 The Sleepy Time Gal Bob
2001 61* Sam Simon
2001 Bartleby Frank Waxman
2001 Women of the Night Sally
2001 The Cure for Bordom Eddie
2001 The Royal Tenenbaums Dusty
2001 The Chameleon Richard Cavanaugh
2002 Passionada Daniel Vargas
2002 Sonny Albert
2002 Stealing Harvard Uncle Jack
2002 Manna from Heaven Stanley
2002 The Burial Society Sam Goldberg
2002 Time & Again Steve Short film
2002 The Biz Eugene Hinkle
2003 Wishing Time The Angel Short film
2003 A Good Night to Die Guy
2003 Stuck on You Morty O'Reilly
2004 Sweet Underground Wally
2004 Thanksgiving Del Short film
2004 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Esteban du Plantier
2005 Lonesome Jim Don
2005 The Wendell Baker Story Boyd Fullbright
2005 Bittersweet Place Jack "Pappy" Schaffer
2005 The Tenants Levenspiel
2005 Before It Had a Name Jeff
2005 Main Street Big Business Short film
2005 Welcome to California Jim's Father
2005 Circadian Rhythm Hoover
2006 Bye Bye Benjamin Mr. Ruby Short film
2006 Sea of Dreams Tomaso
2006 Hollywood Dreams Rupert
2006 Ray of Sunshine Victor
2006 Property The Superintendent Short film
2006 Beer League Dirt
2007 Chasing 3000 Poppy
2007 The Happiest Day of His Life Mr. Jacobs
2007 Postal Paul
2008 Beau Jest Abe Goldman
2008 Barbiere, IL Mort
2008 Big Heart City Larry
2008 Reach for Me Alvin
2009 Little New York Jasper Sabiano
2009 Not Dead Yet Francis
2010 Kissing Strangers Mr. Koster
2010 Pete Smalls Is Dead Saco
2010 Now Here Commissioner
2011 Fort McCoy Father Mivkovek
2011 Without Borders Detective McKenneth
2011 Life Happens Pop Pop
2011 Freerunner Gramps
2011 Pass the Salt, Please Man Short film
2012 Silver Case Dealer
2012 Booster Harold
2012 Broken Kingdom Clayton
2012 Lost Angeles Film Critic
2013 The Secret Lives of Dorks Principal
2014 The Dependables Dominic Ackers
2014 The Algerian Professor Wright
2014 At the Maple Grove Boyle
2015 Silver Case: Director's Cut Dealer
2015 Lucky Dog The Real Spencer
2021 Cosmic Radio Malcolm Stone
TBR Time Framed Boris Esla Completed


Year Title Role Notes
1959 Naked City Student Episode: "Hey, Teach!"; uncredited
1959 Deadline Flyer Episode: "Return to Murder"
1962–1963 The Lloyd Bridges Show Lawyer #2, Richard 2 episodes
1963 Alcoa Premiere Unknown role Episode: "Million Dollar Hospital"
1963 Wagon Train Ed Episode: "The Sam Pulaski Story"
1964 The Twilight Zone Jerry Episode: "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross"; uncredited
1964 Burke's Law Attendant Episode: "Who Killed Annie Foran?"
1964 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Somebody Episode: "The Game with Glass Pieces"
1964 Combat! Doctor Episode: "Point of View"
1964 The Hanged Man Bellboy Television film, uncredited
1965 Laredo Jude Episode: "I See by Your Outfit"
1965 Convoy Phelps Episode: "Admiral Do-Right"
1965–1966 12 O'Clock High Captain Johnson, Mechanic, Left Waist Gunner, B-17 Pilot 5 episodes
1965–1967 The F.B.I. Attendant, P.O.W. Vanndo, Irwin 3 episodes
1966 My Three Sons Coach Gregson Episode: "Call Her Max"
1966–1968 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Jensen 2 episodes
1967 Batman Cancelled 2 episodes
1967 The Invaders Driver Episode: "The Condemned"
1967 The Fugitive Cabbie Episode: "The Judgement"
1967 Cimarron Strip Spock Episode: "The Battleground"
1971 Young Marrieds at Play Adam Television film
1972 Emergency! Bluebell Hunter Episode: "Dilemma"
1973 Nightside Ralph Television film
1977 Scott Joplin Dr. Jaelki Television film
1980 Angel on My Shoulder Smiley Mitchell Television film
1983 Blood Feud Frank Kierdoff, Hoffa Enforcer, Torch Television film
1983 I Want to Live John Santo Television film
1983 Rage unknown role Television film
1986 Beverly Hills Madam Tony Television film
1987 Tales from the Darkside Howard Episode: "The Milkman Cometh"
1987 Hooperman Bum Episode: "Deck the Cell with Bars of Folly"
1988 Ohara Todd Ames Episode: "X"
1988 Star Trek: The Next Generation Lieutenant Commander Hester Dealt Episode: "The Child"
1988 Matlock Dick Silvers, Honest Earl Edwards 2 episodes
1989 Sweet Bird of Youth Hatcher Television film
1991 Dead in the Water Lt. Frank Vaness Television film
1991 Face of a Stranger Ralph Television film
1993 Partners unknown role Television film
1994–1995 Under Suspicion Lieutenant Mickey Schwartz Series regular (17 episodes)
1996 Good Company Jack O'Shea Series regular (6 episodes)
1996–1999 Tracey Takes On... Candy Casino Recurring role (9 episodes)
1997 Chicago Hope Norman Cambridge Episode: "Second Chances"
1997 The Last Don Alfred Gronevelt Miniseries (2 episodes)
1997 The Player unknown role Television film
1998 Emma's Wish Harry Television film
2001 Boston Public Bernie Willis Episode: "Chapter Fourteen"
2001 61* Sam Simon Television film
2002 Arli$$ Artie Episode: "Moments to Remember"
2002 A Nero Wolfe Mystery James Arthur, Dazy Perrit 2 episodes
2003 Lucky The Trake 3 episodes
2003 Gary the Rat Man in Panda Suit Voice, episode: "Manrattan"
2005 Justice League Unlimited Chuck Sirianni Voice, episode: "I Am Legion"
2006 Heist Pops 6 episodes
2007 ER Alfred Gower Episode: "Photographs and Memories"
2008 To Love and Die Grandfather Television film
2009 Crash Julian Gold Episode: "The Pain Won't Stop"
2009 Flight of the Conchords Johnny Boy Episode: "The Tough Brets"
2010 Back Nine Mondo Television film
2011 Funny or Die... King of Police "#2.10" (segment "United States Police Department")
2011 Circling the Drain Fuzzy Kaye Television film
2012 FCU: Fact Checkers Unit Old Man Episode: "James Franco Is Preggers"


  1. ^ Andrea LeVasseur (2013). "Seymour Cassel". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013.
  2. ^ "Seymour Cassel Biography (1937-)".
  3. ^ Riggs, Thomas (1984). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 76. ISBN 9780787690496.
  4. ^ Seymour Cassel, mischievous character actor of independent films, dies at 84. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Seymour Cassel Biography". Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Slash (autobiography) by Slash, 2007
  7. ^ "Seymour Cassel, Familiar Face in Cassavetes Films, Dies at 84". The Hollywood Reporter. April 8, 2019.
  8. ^ "Award Winners". January 23, 2011. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  9. ^ Roxborough, Scott (August 14, 2012). "Seymour Cassel Lends Name to Oldenburg Festival's Actor's Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  10. ^ "National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA winners". Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  11. ^ "Browser Unsupported - Academy Awards Search | Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences". Retrieved March 31, 2021.