Bruno Kirby has died at the young age of 57.

A hard-working character actor with a career that has spanned years, he would do anything (look at his resume), which is why it is so wonderful that he appeared in movies that “hit” (so to speak) – like Harry Met Sally or Donnie Brasco or City Slickers – movies where he had a supporting role, but which millions of people saw. Character actors HOPE for such a chance. Bruno Kirby was always good. I loved it when he got cranky. (The wagon-wheel scene in Harry Met Sally is a perfect example.) Somehow, his anger was funny. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to make rage funny – and yet also REAL.

Sad. I’m sad about this one. I have always really liked him.

His work had integrity. Always. You can’t say that about too many people.


Seriously. How insane is that. How funny is that?? But also: how REAL. Watch him in that scene again. He is really playing that game. It’s so real which is why it is so funny.

This should be a recognizable image below. I was going to post a picture of him carrying the wagon-wheel table out onto the sidewalk (one of my favorites of his scenes) but figured this would be better. As a reminder of just how long he’s been around, and just how good this guy really was.


Rest in peace, Mr. Kirby. You died WAY too soon, man.

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  1. Emily says:

    “This generation, they just don’t understand. When you’ve loved and lost the way Frank has…”

  2. chuckinmaine says:

    I loved his work in “The Freshman”. Absolutely hilarious! An under-rated movie if ever there was one. He played the sneaky, underhanded mafia type, even better than Pesci has at times.

    That’s a shame, good actor and you’re right quite an impressive resume.

  3. red says:

    Yes! He was so funny in The Freshman!!

  4. JFH says:

    “Sir, in my heart, I know I’m funny.”

  5. red says:

    Good Morning, Vietnam, right??? hahahahahaha Omigod, I forgot that one.

  6. JFH says:

    Bingo…. “And if you dooo, and if you dooo!”

  7. "dave" says:

    Now, as a Kurt Russell fan, do you remember a couple of old Disney movies from the early 70’s? I think it was Superdad with Bob Crane whose daughter was going out with Kurt Russell – and Bruno was Kurt’s buddy. In every scene he had a different delivery job — in one he’s driving around in a Volkswagon Bug with a giant 10 foot pickle on top of the car!

  8. JFH says:

    Like he did for Billy Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally” and “City Slickers”; he made Robin Williams even funnier.

  9. red says:

    Of course I remember Superdad! What a blast from a shameful 70s past. hahahaha I don’t remember Kirby being in it, though.

  10. red says:

    JFH – that’s a very insightful comment. I agree.

    Kirby is very funny – but it never seems like he’s TRYING to be funny.

  11. melissa says:

    I saw this, and am sad too… there are so few character actors that you know by name – its always by face, or by voice. I knew his name, and by this I know he was great.
    RIP, Bruno Kirby.

  12. red says:

    Emily – hahahahaha You know – I’ve seen that movie a million times and I always forget he’s in it. He’s hysterical.

  13. Erik says:

    It’s so sad. He was so, so good. My friend Joe just reminded me of that scene in City Slickers when they’re talking about the best and worst days of their lives and Bruno Kirby says that the BEST day of his life was when, as a kid, he kicked his asshole father out of the house and told him to never come back, and the other guys are surprised by that answer but Kirby’s character explains that from that day on he took care of the family and they were better off without his cheating dad. And then they ask him what the WORST day of his life is, and he says: “Same day.”

    Oy, killer. He’s just so good.

  14. Alex Nunez says:

    I love that Godfather II pic.

    Bruno Kirby was one of those guys who could never open a movie on his own — he just wasn’t an “above the title” type. The thing is, he made movies he was in so much better, he was just as crucial as the big star who drew the crowd. It’s hard to find guys this good.

  15. red says:

    Alex – yeah, it’s character actors like Kirby who are really the MOTORS of movies. Stars are indispensable – you need them – but stars are only as good as the ensemble surrounding them. That is ALWAYS true … Kirby was just one of “those” guys. I admire someone who has a career like that. Not a lot of glory – but the chance to do good work, and be a real collaborator.

  16. red says:

    Erik – gulp. such a good moment.

  17. Sal says:

    This made me so sad. I LOVED him.
    As a character actor collector, he was a favorite. He was as good in dramatic roles as comedies.
    “The Freshman” – what a great movie.
    He will be missed.

  18. Dave J says:

    I hadn’t heard, until now. Damn. Way, way too soon. And like others here, while I thought he was great in so many things, the role that always stands out in my mind was Lt. Hauk in Good Morning, Vietnam.

    HAUK: Frankly, I found your “I love a police action” remark way out of line. How can you have the gall to compare the conflict here in Vietnam with a cup of cappuccino coffee?

    CRONAUER: Well, I was…it just comes up. I was trying to be funny.

    HAUK: Funny is good. Funny is good. But do it by using comedy and humour, not police action
    and coffee remarks. [pause] Furthermore, you are to stick to playing normal modes of music, not wild stuff. Those we would find acceptable here
    would include Lawrence Welk, Jim Nabors, Mantovani…

    CRONAUER: Percy Faith.

    HAUK: Percy Faith. Good! Andy Williams, Perry Como and certain ballads by Mr. Frank Sinatra.

    CRONAUER: Would Bob Dylan be out of line?

    HAUK: Way, way, way out of line.

  19. dorkafork says:

    You wouldn’t expect a character actor to have the range to play a gangster, a stick in the mud Army bureaucrat, and a lovable schmo, and all like he was born in the role.

  20. red says:

    davej – hahahahahaha that is so damn funny!!

  21. Dave J says:

    I actually especially like Hauk’s interaction with the unnamed corporal who’s been assigned as his aide and who OBVIOUSLY has no respect for him at all, and no fear of his being an officer either.

    EDDIE GARLICK (Forrest Whittaker): We looked into getting Bob Hope, sir, but his agent said he couldn’t do it.

    HAUK: Why not?

    GARLICK: Bob doesn’t do police actions, sir, just wars. Bob likes a big room, sir.

    EVERYONE BUT HAUK: [laughs]

    CORPORAL: Well, what if it escalated?

    HAUK: What if WHAT escalated?

    CORPORAL: The Vietnam Conflict.

    HAUK: The Vietnam Conflict. [pause] We are not about to escalate an entire war just so you can book a big-name comedian.

  22. Laura says:

    Loved him. One of those guys who wasn’t the main star, but without him so many movies would have lacked so much. Good Morning Vietnam is one of my favorite movies, and he was awesome in it.

    Sad he’s gone, he was fun to watch.

  23. JFH says:

    Dave J, see, I was gonna quote those same passages (they’re ingrained in the minds of my father, B-in-law and me), but I figured it would place me in the “obsessive” camp (Yeah, like that’s not already a sailed ship). Please stop me before I start quoting the dialog between “Lt. Steve” and “Frenchie”.

  24. red says:

    JFH – you’re shy about being in the obsessive camp on THIS blog??? :) Let it out!!

    Here’s one of my favorite quotes of his from Harry Met Sally:

    “You made a woman meow?”

  25. kevin says:

    He’s never going to get it, the cows can program the VCR by now.

  26. Dave J says:

    HARRY: So I asked her, do you still love me? And then she says, I don’t know if I’ve EVER loved you.

    JESS: That’s harsh.

    HARRY: Yeah.

    JESS: No, I mean, I’m a writer and I know dialogue and that’s especially harsh.

  27. Oh nooooooooooooo! I was away last week and didn’t have much access to the internet or TV. I had NO idea he died. I love him. And I LOVE that you selected “Baby fishmouth” as the title of this post. Every time I think about that scene, I crack up. So awesome. I’m so bummed he died.