19 Jan 2007
Ron Carey, the comic character actor who was best known as the constantly self-promoting Officer Levitt on the television series "Barney Miller," but who also boasted stage and film credits, died Jan. 16 in Los Angeles of complications from a stroke, it was reported. He was 71.
Mr. Carey's Carl Levitt was a relentlessly brown-nosing Manhattan policeman. In a typical visit to the detectives room depicted in the sitcom "Barney Miller," he used the delivery of mail as an excuse to offer unsolicited advice on crime cases and find ways to remind Captain Miller (Hal Linden) of his qualifications for promotion to plain-clothes detective. His foolish persona was accented by Mr. Carey's small stature (he was 5-feet-4-inches). Levitt made up for the fact that he stood a good four inches shorter than the rest of the detectives by hoisting himself briefly on tiptoes after making what he considered to be a good point.
For his pains, Levitt was finally promoted late in the run of the series. To proclaim his new status, he donned a series of garish plaid sport jackets, much to the horror of office clotheshorse Detective Harris (Ron Glass).
Mr. Carey was born Ronald Cincenia in Newark, New Jersey, on Dec. 11, 1935. His early years in show business were spent as a comedian. He made stand-up appearances on "The Merv Griffin Show," "The Mike Douglas Show" and "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. He starred on Broadway in Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna's 1968 comedy Lovers and Other Strangers. With his high, nasal voice and New Joisey manners, he often came off as something like Joe Pesci's nicer kid brother.
He was also a favorite of film director Mel Brooks, who cast him in "Silent Movie," "High Anxiety" and "History of the World, Part I." He also starred in the movies "Fatso" and "Johnny Dangerously."