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Ian Abercrombie[1] (11 September 1934 – 26 January 2012) was an English actor.[2]

Ian Abercrombie
Born(1934-09-11)11 September 1934
Grays, Essex, England
Died26 January 2012(2012-01-26) (aged 77)
OccupationActor, voice actor
Years active1955–2012
Notable work
  • Elizabeth Romano
    (m. 1956; div. 1978)
  • Gladys Abercrombie
    (m. 1984; died 2012)

He played Alfred Pennyworth on Birds of Prey, Justin Pitt (Elaine Benes's boss) during the sixth season of Seinfeld, Rupert Cavanaugh (Ian Hainsworth's butler) in Desperate Housewives, Professor Crumbs in Wizards of Waverly Place, and Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.


Early lifeEdit

Abercrombie was born on 11 September 1934 in Grays, Essex, England.[3] He began his theatrical career during the Blitz in World War II. After his footwork years during which he earned Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in stage dancing, he performed in London, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. He moved to the United States at age 17.[3]

He made his American stage debut in 1955 in a production of Stalag 17 with Jason Robards and Jules Munshin. Many plays in summer stock, regional, and off-Broadway followed in a variety of theatrical offerings, from revues to Shakespeare (in a particularly low period, he worked as a magician's assistant for $10 a performance).

In 1957, he was drafted into the United States Army and stationed in West Germany as part of Special Services, where he directed the continental premiere of Separate Tables.

In the United States, he went to California for a backers' audition, which went nowhere, but he began a long film and television career. He received awards[clarification needed] for his work in Sweet Prince with Keir Dullea; Teeth 'N'smiles; A Doll's House with Linda Purl; and The Arcata Promise, opposite Anthony Hopkins. He received acclaim for the one-man show Jean Cocteau—A Mirror Image.


Abercrombie was known to cult film audiences as Wiseman in the comedy horror film Army of Darkness (1993). He guest-starred on many television series such as Seinfeld, The Nanny, Wizards of Waverly Place, Airwolf, Babylon 5 and NewsRadio.

On radio, he was heard in several productions of the Hollywood Theater of the Ear.[citation needed] Abercrombie voiced Ambrose in Oscar-nominated Rango (2011). He also portrayed Ganthet on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, completing his work on the latest episode of Cartoon Network show just before his death.[4]

Star Wars: The Clone WarsEdit

Abercrombie voiced Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious in the 2008 film The Clone Wars, the television continuation, and two spin-off video games (Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes[5] and Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels). Supervising director Dave Filoni said that Ian was very excited that Darth Sidious finally was going to be seen in person and not as a hologram anymore; during Celebration VI, Filoni also mentioned that before his death, Ian did record for most of Season Five as the character, but did not finish, so actor Tim Curry was brought in to voice Palpatine. However, Abercrombie also voiced the character in the Clovis story arc of the Lost Missions (Season Six) since it was originally a part of the Season Four, and later the Season Five, line-up. Thus, it was finished before his death. This was his final released work both on the series and in his life, shown in 2014. He was honored with a message of "In memory of Ian Abercrombie" at the beginning of Season 5, Episode 16 "The Lawless".


Abercrombie died in Los Angeles, California on 26 January 2012, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, twenty days after the Wizards of Waverly Place finale, from kidney failure. He was 77.[3]

Star Wars Celebration VI included the panel "Vocal Stars of The Clone Wars", hosted by James Arnold Taylor and featuring cast members Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker and Tom Kane. The cast dedicated the panel to Abercrombie. Additionally, The Clone Wars episode "The Lawless" includes a dedication to Abercrombie in the opening titles.


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Young Frankenstein Second Villager Uncredited
1977–1983 Fantasy Island McShane / Inspector Lestrade / Bartender 3 episodes
1978 Battlestar Galactica Forger 7
1979 The Prisoner of Zenda Johann
1978 Sextette Rex Ambrose
1983 Journey's End
1984 The Ice Pirates Hymie
1985 Kicks Barnes
1986 Firewalker Boggs
1986 Last Resort Maître d'
1987 It's Garry Shandling's Show Himself
1989 Warlock Magistrate #1
1988 Catacombs Brother Orsini
1990 Tales from the Crypt Fulton Episode: "The Switch"
1990 The Flash Ghost Henchman Episode: "Ghost in the Machine"
1991 Zandalee Louis Medina
1991 Puppet Master III Dr. Hess
1992 Twin Peaks Tom Brockman
1992 The Public Eye Mr. Brown
1993 Army of Darkness Wiseman
1993 Addams Family Values Driver
1994 Clean Slate Leader
1994 Babylon 5 Correlilmurzon Episode: "Acts of Sacrifice"
1994–1998 Seinfeld Justin Pitt 7 episodes[3]
1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park Butler
1997–2002 Days of Our Lives Hotel Manager/Jeweller/Mr. Simkins/Lawyer 4 episodes
1997 MouseHunt Auctioneer
1998 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Old Man/German boss Episode: "Homecoming"
1998 Beyond_Belief: Fact or Fiction Emile Season 2 Episode 7
1999-2000 Star Trek: Voyager Abbot / Milo Episodes: "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Spirit Folk"
2000 Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman Psychiatrist Direct-to-video
2002 James Bond 007: Nightfire Alexander Mayhew (voice) Video game
2002-2003 Birds of Prey Alfred Pennyworth 14 Episodes
2004 Charmed Aramis (member of The Tribunal) Season 6 Episode 19: "Crimes and Witch-Demeanors"
2004 RalliSport Challenge 2 Narrator Video Game
2005 Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School Evrin Sezgin
2005 Area 51 Dr. Cray[6] (voice) Video Game
2005 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy F (voice) Episode: "Scythe 2.0"
2005 Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None Thomas Rogers / General Mackenzie[6] (voice) Video Game
Based on the novel of the same name.
2006 The Batman Ewan[6] (voice) Episode: "The Icy Depths"
2006 Inland Empire Henry the Butler
2006 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Smithee
2007–2012 Wizards of Waverly Place Professor Crumbs Unknown episodes
2008 How I Met Your Mother Benjamin Franklin Season 3 Episode 17: "The Goat"
2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars Chancellor Palpatine / Darth Sidious[6] (voice)
2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels Darth Sidious (voice) Video Game
2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes Chancellor Palpatine / Darth Sidious[6] (voice) Videogame
2008–2014 Star Wars: The Clone Wars 29 Episodes
His death is honored at the beginning of the episode "The Lawless" – S5E16.
2011 Rango Ambrose[6] (voice)
2011 Childrens Hospital Butler Episode: "Run, Dr. Lola Spratt, Run"
2011 Happily Divorced Victor Episode: "Spousal Support"
2011-2013 Green Lantern: The Animated Series Ganthet[6] (voice) 5 Episodes
His death is honored at the end of the episode "Regime Change" – S1E10.


  1. ^ "U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895–1956".
  2. ^ "Ian Abercrombie". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Barnes, Mike (27 January 2012). "Ian Abercrombie, Elaine's Boss on 'Seinfeld', Dies at 77". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  4. ^ Minovitz, Ethan (28 January 2012). "Ian Abercrombie, 77, was boss Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  5. ^ Krome Studios (6 October 2009). Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes. LucasArts. Scene: Closing credits, 2:30 in, Voice Talent.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Ian Abercrombie - 12 Character Images".

External linksEdit