LOS ANGELES Feb 16 Actor Len Lesser, who
starred on "Seinfeld" as Jerry's eccentric, shoplifting Uncle
Leo, died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 88.
A friend told Reuters Lesser was admitted to a
rehabilitation center near his home in the city of Burbank
several weeks ago, and died peacefully after breakfast.
Although the television and movie veteran appeared in just
15 episodes of "Seinfeld," his idiosyncratic character was a
key ingredient in the offbeat tone of the 1990s sitcom.
His traits included a boisterous "Jerry! Hello!!" whenever
he saw his comedian nephew, played by Seinfeld. His last name
was never revealed, but everyone knew him as Uncle Leo.
In one episode, Uncle Leo accused a chef of being
anti-Semitic because his hamburger was undercooked.
Lesser's baldness and sharp visage were used to comic
effect throughout the show. Jerry once labeled him an "Adonis,"
who should be swinging. But he reversed course later in the
same episode, declaring: "If there's a woman that can take your
presence for more than ten consecutive seconds, you should hang
on to her like grim death. Which is not far off, by the way."
New York-born Lesser's TV career began in the 1950s and
included roles opposite Steve McQueen in "Papillon" and Clint
Eastwood in "Kelly's Heroes" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales."
In his later years Lesser had a recurring role on
"Everybody Loves Raymond" as a crony of star Ray Romano's
father, played by Peter Boyle. His last appearance was as a
neighbor in a 2009 episode of the TV show "Castle."
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Peter Bohan and Todd