Thursday, April 25, 2013

Allan Arbus

In several earlier posts, The PC has talked about one of the perks of working in Hollywood.

That is, getting the chance to meet some of the people he has admired since his youth.

Actor Allan Arbus, who passed away yesterday, at the age of 95, was one of those people that The Blog had always hoped to meet.

But, alas, that never happened.


Arbus was best known as the recurring character Dr. Maj. Sidney Freedman on the TV series M*A*S*H.

Major Freedman was an Army Psychiatrist who stood out among the regular cast of rapid fire wits with his laconic, laid back, low key sarcasm and compassion. He was featured in several of M*A*S*H's best episodes, in two of them, matching wits with his ideological opposite, Col. Flagg.

By all reports, there was little daylight between the fictitious personality of Sidney Freedman and the real Allan Arbus.

In fact, according to M*A*S*H writer, (and one of The Blog's favorite bloggers,) Ken Levine, until he he was dissuaded from his misconception, Alan "Hawkeye Pierce" Alda assumed that Arbus was an actual psychiatrist who had been cast in the role.

It has been postulated that Dr. Freedman's gentle empathy and humor did much to advance the public perception of psychotherapy in the late 1970s.

But, Arbus led a seriously interesting life before he became an actor.

In the 1950s, he was a photographer. His wife and business partner was Diane Arbus, whose photographic fame would eventually eclipse his own.

That period was portrayed in the trippy, surreal 2006 film "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus," which starred Nicole Kidman as Diane and "Modern Family's" Ty Burrell as Allan.

As the title suggests, the film's story was fictionalized, but from what The Blog has been able to ascertain, was true to the spirit of that crazy time.

The PC's mind is, frankly, blown to discover that Arbus was 95 years old at the time of his death.

He seemed so much younger, 30 years ago.

Which brings me back to my original thought.

Allan is in good company.

Vincent Price, George Burns, Boris Karloff, John Belushi, Katherine Hepburn.

All people that The PC would have liked to have met during his time in Hollywood, but missed before their passing.


So, a toast to Allan Arbus.

It seems appropriate that that toast should be a famous Dr. Freedman toast.

(Attributed to Larry Gelbart, but, maybe older than that...)

"Ladies and gentlemen,
Take my advice.
Pull down your pants,
And slide on the ice."


  1. Hahah! Facebook just said said they don't trust this site and asked me to verify it wasn't spam. You owe me now, PC! ;)

    I'm glad I'm not the only one that was stunned to find that Allan Arbus was 95! I thought it had to have been a typo when it was first reported.

    I loved the Sydney character. I have to go find some ice now....

    1. The Blogspot/Facebook relationship got a little bit weird last night. The Blog had to prove to Facebook that he wasn't a 'bot in order to share this post. And, linking back from FB I got the same "trust" issue from Blogspot. The problem seems to have passed.