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Inside 'Barney Miller' Star Hal Linden's Life after Nationwide Fame

Manuela Cardiga
Nov 12, 2020
12:00 A.M.
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Veteran actor Hal Linden from the ABC 70s hit cop sitcom "Barney Miller" is now 89 years old, and is still working in movies, and on television.

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Actor Hal Linden rose to fame as Captain Barney Miller in the ABC 70s hit cop sitcom "Barney Miller" and has since then continued working on TV, on stage, and has even cut a jazz album.

It's hard to believe the active and energetic veteran actor is now pushing 90. Linden has been working in entertainment for 64 years and scored his breakthrough role on Broadway in 1971.

Hal Linden at Lucie Arnaz's performance at Feinstein’s in January 2012 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

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MEET BARNEY MILLER

Back in 1975, a new sitcom "Barney Miller," revolutionized the way police officers and their work was portrayed. For the first time, the real problems precincts face, like budget cuts, and faulty plumbing as part of the plot.

Heading the mad-house at Greenwich's fictional 12th Precinct was Captain Barney Miller, played by actor Hal Linden, who coped with the insanity of the job, his madcap officers, and life in general with his caustic sense of humor.

Linden had originally intended to earn a living as a musician and studied music at the City University of New York

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Publicity photo of Hal Linden taken in 1981 | Source: Wikimedia Commons/ ABC TV, Hal Linden - ABC, marked as public domain

BREAK INTO TV

For Linden, then 44, and a respected Broadway actor with a Best Actor Tony Award under his belt, "Barney Miller" was his breakthrough role in the world of television.

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On "Barney Miller" there were no high-speed car-chases, shoot-outs, or heroic scenes -- it was oddly realistic, and hilariously funny, with only the occasional outdoors scene, usually a long and dreary stakeout.

Hal Linden as Captain Barney Miller in 1974 | Source: Getty Images

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MR ENTERTAINMENT

Linden had originally intended to earn a living as a musician and studied music at the City University of New York. Music was a family passion and his brother was a professor of music at Bowling Green State University, but acting stole him away.

In 1956, Linden landed a role on Broadway on the musical " Bells Are Ringing" and it opened the way for a career in theater, which culminated with his participation in the 1971 musical "The Rothschilds." His depiction of Mayer Rothschild earned him his Tony.

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AGELESS HAL LINDEN

During and after "Barney Miller's run, Linden became an in-demand guest on several hit shows, including "The Love Boat," "FBI," "Father Figure," and "How to Break Up a Happy Divorce," and "Grumpy Old Men" with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau.

In 1992, Linden headlined a new series, "Jack's Place" about a retired jazz musician who plays Cupid in his own restaurant. Music has followed Linden, and in 2011, Linden, then 80, released his first album, "It's Never Too Late," a compilation of his jazz favorites, and Broadway hits.

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Linden is now 89, but still working. 2018 saw the release of the critically acclaimed "The Samuel Project," about the building of a relationship between a grandson and his Holocaust-survivor grandfather.

Linden starred in the 2019 comedy, "Grand-Daddy Day Care," and guested on "Gray's Anatomy," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Age isn't slowing Hal Linden down, and we can expect more from the "Barney Miller" star in years to come.

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