Allan Arbus

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Allan Arbus
Born(1918-02-15)February 15, 1918
New York City, New York,
United States
DiedApril 19, 2013(2013-04-19) (aged 95)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationActor, Photographer
Years active1961–2000
Spouse(s)Diane Arbus (1941–1969; divorced; 2 children)
Mariclare Costello (1977–2013; his death; 1 child)
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Allan Arbus
Born(1918-02-15)February 15, 1918
New York City, New York,
United States
DiedApril 19, 2013(2013-04-19) (aged 95)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationActor, Photographer
Years active1961–2000
Spouse(s)Diane Arbus (1941–1969; divorced; 2 children)
Mariclare Costello (1977–2013; his death; 1 child)

Allan Franklin Arbus (February 15, 1918 – April 19, 2013)[1] was an American actor notable for his role as psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman on the television series M*A*S*H.

Early life[edit]

Arbus was born in New York City, of Jewish background,[2] the son of stockbroker Harry Arbus and his wife Rose (née Goldberg).[3] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he first developed an interest in acting while appearing in a student play.[4]

Arbus was also a music lover. Before becoming an actor, he was reportedly so taken by Benny Goodman's recordings that he took up playing the clarinet.[4]

Photography career[edit]

During the 1940s, Arbus became a photographer for the United States Army. In 1946, after completing his military service, he and his first wife, photographer Diane Arbus (née Nemerov, whom he had married in 1941), started a photographic advertising business in Manhattan. Arbus was primarily known for advertising photography that appeared in Glamour, Seventeen, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other magazines, as well as the weekly newspaper advertising photography for Russek's, a Fifth Avenue department store owned by Diane's father.[5] Edward Steichen's noted photo exhibition The Family of Man includes a photograph credited to the couple.[6] The Arbuses' professional partnership ended in 1956, when Diane quit the business; the couple formally separated three years later. Allan Arbus continued on for a number of years as a solo photographer, but was out of the business by the time the couple divorced in 1969.

Diane and Allan Arbus's studio/living quarters were at one time at 319 East 72nd Street in New York City. Their neighbor and friend was Robert Brown, an actor on the TV show Here Come the Brides.

Acting career[edit]

After the breakup of his first marriage and the dissolution of his business, Arbus decided to leave photography behind and pursue a new career in acting. In 1969 he moved to California.[7] His new career took off after he landed the lead role in Robert Downey Sr.'s cult film Greaser's Palace (1972), in which he appears with Robert Downey, Jr. (who would go on to star as Diane Arbus's muse in Fur, a fictional account of the end of the Arbuses' marriage). Arbus also starred opposite Bette Davis in Scream, Pretty Peggy in 1973, and was featured as Gregory LaCava in W.C. Fields and Me in 1976. These roles led to his casting as Maj. Sidney Freedman on M*A*S*H, although in an early episode, "Radar's Report" (1973), he was called "Milton Freedman".

Arbus's work on M*A*S*H helped his career as a character actor, and he eventually appeared in more than 70 TV shows and movies.[8] He appears briefly in the 1973 film Cinderella Liberty as a drunken sailor; another 1973 film, Coffy (starring Pam Grier), features Arbus as a drug dealer with strange sexual needs; in the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, he plays Pasarian, one of Damien's many victims in The Omen trilogy.

Arbus is far better known for his television work, which includes over 45 titles and works as recent as Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2000.[8] Among Arbus's non-M*A*S*H TV work are guest and recurring roles in such television series as Law & Order, In the Heat of the Night, L.A. Law, Matlock, Starsky and Hutch, and Judging Amy.

Personal life[edit]

Allan and Diane Arbus had two children, photographer Amy Arbus and writer and art director Doon Arbus. The couple separated in 1959 and divorced in 1969, two years before Diane Arbus's suicide in 1971.

Arbus married actress Mariclare Costello in 1977. The couple have one daughter, Arin Arbus, who is the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre for a New Audience.

Arbus died of congestive heart failure on April 19, 2013, in Los Angeles. He was 95.[1]


1977Raid on EntebbeEli Melnick
1980The Last Married Couple in AmericaAl Squib
1982Quincy, M.E.Dr. EllerickFor Love of Joshua
M*A*S*HMajor Sidney Freedman & Major Milton Freedman12 Episodes
1984The World of Don CamilloChristvoice
1984The Four SeasonsBoris Elliot13 episodes
1985Cagney & LaceyArthur StaceyViolation
1985VolunteersAlbert Bardenaro
1985Hardcastle and McCormickDr. FriedmanDo Not go Gentle
1986CrossroadsDr. Santis
1986Walt Disney's Wonderful World of ColorDr. Andreas HellmanA Fighting Choice
1987From the HipPhil Ames
1987Daniel and the TowersSimon 'Sam' Rodia
1987OharaSol RostoffThe Intruders
1987DuetMr. ColemanBorn, Bred and Buttered in Brooklyn
1987MatlockPeter LeoniThe Chef
1989L.A. LawLawrence StoneI'm in the Nude for Love
1989The Preppie MurderArnold Domenitz
1989MatlockAaron MitchellThe Star
1989When He's Not a StrangerJudge Thomas J. Gray
1990HunterNorman TateUnfinished Business
1990Too Much SunVincent
1991StatHesh CooperSafe Smuggling &
Brooklyn BridgeDr. Schulman3 episodes
1993Law & OrderDominique KeithAnimal Instinct
1993Josh and S.A.M.Businessman on plane
In The Heat of the NightDr. AtwillDiscovery
Little Girl Lost
1994Mad About YouAlbertThe Last Scampi
1997In Dark PlacesDory
1998L.A. DoctorsMr. MitskiA Prayer for the living
1999Making ContactFather Time
1999NYPD BlueSeymore EpsteinDon't Meth with me
1999Judging AmyJudge Fowler3 episodes
2000Curb Your EnthusiasmUncle NathanThe Group


  1. ^ a b "MASH actor Allan Arbus dies at 95". BBC News. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Bloom, Nate (2005-05-05). "Celebrity Jews". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  3. ^ Allan Arbus Biography (1918–)
  4. ^ a b Boehm, Mike (2000-12-31). "Theater; Lured Back for One Last Great Role; Veteran actor Allan Arbus leaves a fulfilling retirement to take on an Arthur Miller part he found he couldn't resist.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-14. Arbus says he yearned to be an actor from his early teens, when he had a moment of special clarity while playing in a student production at DeWitt Clinton High School. 
  5. ^ Lubow, Arthur. "Arbus Reconsidered." New York Times, September 14, 2003. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  6. ^ Marshall, Peter. "Diane Arbus: Key Facts". Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  7. ^ Trounson, Rebecca (April 23, 2013). "Allan Arbus dies at 95; played psychiatrist on 'MASH'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  8. ^ a b "IMDb Filmography for Allan Arbus". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 

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