Jack Warden died. He wasn't young. He got the mention you'd expect for an old hand in movies and TV; chaste, short, each item mentioning the little corner of his life that overlapped the reporter's life. We'll remember his name for a while, and then just his face, always referring to him as "Oh, that guy," and then he'll become the trivia question, and then end up in a sort of famous oblivion. He'll never go away, really, there's just too much evidence of him.
It's telling, about either Jack or me, that all the mentions of his work in the five-paragraph-dead-notices I found here and there mention all kinds of things he worked in I haven't seen, and wouldn't find time to watch if I was confined to an iron lung, in prison. Come to think of it, I bet if I looked through his bio hard enough, I bet I could find a role he played of a guy in an iron lung in prison. He played every other damn thing.
I always liked actors like him. Out of the WW II army with a bum leg, he took a shot at acting, and from there on in he worked all the time. I'm sure he became that reliable name in everybody's rolodex: ready, steady, go. And after a while, you noticed that whenever they gave Jack Warden interesting lines to deliver, he'd deliver them as well as anybody. I did anyway.
He seems to be remembered mostly as being Warren Beatty's go-to guy. He was terrific in Shampoo, where they gave him something to say. It's Warren Beatty who's a stiff that won't lay down now, not Jack. Warren Beatty played a callow lothario in Shampoo to a tee, and Warden played the dissolute businessman foil for him perfectly; no one seems to have figured out that Beatty was good in his role because that's exactly what he was -- a tongue tied dope with too few shirt buttons. Jack Warden was a good actor. Big difference.
Jack has 153 projects listed in imdb, and some have mutiple entries because they're TV roles. Anyone can go in there and find something they liked Jack Warden in. Film critic or Home Shopping Club devotee -- doesn't matter-- there's something for everyone.
There's three things he did that came to mind right away for me when I heard he was dead.
Those three movies encapsulated, some unintentionally, the clapped out shambles the seventies still represents to me. Jack Warden is marvelous in all three, and steals the show each time.
Watch those three movies. Send Jack home thinking: Man, he was good.