Stephen Landesberg (November 23, 1936 – December 20, 2010) was an American actor and comedian known for his role as the erudite, unflappable police detective Arthur P. Dietrich on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller, for which he was nominated for three Emmy Awards.[1]

Steve Landesberg
Landesberg in 1979
Stephen Landesberg

(1936-11-23)November 23, 1936
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
DiedDecember 20, 2010(2010-12-20) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1971–2009
Nancy Ross
(m. 1986)

Life and career


Landesberg was born on November 23, 1936, in the Bronx, New York, to Ann Landesberg, a milliner, and Abraham Landesberg, a grocery store owner.[2] He was Jewish. He was part of improv group New York Stickball Team, which performed several shows that aired on cable television shortly after Barney Miller went off the air.

Landesberg was a member of the cast of the 1974 CBS situation comedy Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. He made guest appearances on The Tonight Show, The Rockford Files, Law & Order, Saturday Night Live, The Golden Girls, Ghost Whisperer, That '70s Show and Everybody Hates Chris. He starred in Starz's original show Head Case as Dr. Myron Finkelstein. He appeared in the motion pictures Wild Hogs, Leader of the Band, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He appeared in 124 episodes of Barney Miller as Det. Sgt. Arthur Dietrich, starting from the last episode of the 1975 season until the end of the series in 1982.

Landesberg also co-starred in the TV pilot Black Bart, a spin-off of Blazing Saddles. He attempted a comeback to television playing a public defender in Seattle in an unsold sitcom pilot, The Best Defense, later aired on June 19, 1995, on ABC.[3]

In the mid-1980s, Landesberg was the spokesman in TV and print advertisements for Northwestern Bell's long-distance telephone services. He also was a TV spokesman for AAMCO Transmissions in the 1980s and early 1990s, for Canadian Airlines in 1990, and for Office Depot in the 1990s.

He and his wife, Nancy Ross Landesberg, had a daughter, Elizabeth.[1]



Landesberg died from colon cancer on December 20, 2010, aged 74. He was cremated.

Throughout his career, Landesberg was noncommittal about his age and year of birth. At the time of his death, many news outlets mistakenly reported his age as 65;[1] some never corrected that story.[4] In acknowledging that he was actually nine years older than he had long claimed, his daughter Elizabeth said he had provided varying birth dates over the years. "He got kind of a late start in show business," she explained, "so he tried to straddle the generations. He fooled the whole world. People were surprised to think he was even 65."[1] Landesberg commented on the issue in a 1979 Washington Post profile for which he refused to give his age:[5]

Let's just say I started late. It hurts you with casting directors... If you tell them your age–let's say you're middle-aged–and they've never heard of you, they figure you're no good, or else they would've heard of you already. I tell my friends not to tell their ages.

Partial filmography



  1. ^ a b c d Boardman, Hamilton (December 20, 2010). "Steve Landesberg, 'Barney Miller' Actor, Dies at 74". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Steve Landesberg Film Reference biography".
  3. ^ McKerrow, Steve (19 June 1995). "'Dream On' about politicians". Retrieved Apr 28, 2021.
  4. ^ Boardman, Hamilton York. "Steve Landesberg, 'Barney Miller' actor, dies at 65". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-06-28 – via The New York Times.
  5. ^ Thursby, Keith (December 21, 2010). "Steve Landesberg dies; comic actor played intellectual detective on sitcom 'Barney Miller'". Los Angeles Times.