Thursday, January 14, 2016

"MASH" Actor David Arkin Commits Suicide 1991

David Arkin (December 24, 1941 – January 14, 1991) was an American actor, known for his numerous supporting appearances in the films of Robert Altman. These roles were part of Altman's frequent ensemble and included Staff Sergeant Vollmer in MASH (where he also wrote and voiced the PA announcements), Harry in The Long Goodbye (1973), Norman in Nashville (1975), and The Mailman/The Police Officer in Popeye (1980).

Early life and education

He was born David George Arkin in Los Angeles, California.


Arkin had an "introducing" credit in I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968) and brief appearances in Valley of the Dolls (1967), All the President's Men (1976), and Cannonball (1976).

His television credits include Hawaii Five-O, Whitney and the Robot, and a season-long appearance as the character Gabriel Kaye in the CBS television series Storefront Lawyers, co-starring Robert Foxworth and Sheila Larken. 

He also appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and on the Joey Bishop and the Steve Allen late night shows with the Hollywood Sunset Strip improvisational comedy troupe The Session (which included Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner, Larry Bishop, Bobbie Shaw-Chance, Marj Dusay, and Phil Mishkin); he later performed with The Second City touring troupe.

Arkin wrote Human Cargo: Great Escapes, which Curry later produced with their company Old Dime Box Productions for the Showtime television network as Escape: Human Cargo; it starred Treat Williams and was filmed in Israel. She also produced and directed One Man’s Opinion, a politically incorrect take on newly released films; it starred Arkin and Professor Tyrone Shaw, now on the faculty of journalism at Johnson State College in Vermont.

Personal life and death

Arkin was married three times, the last time to actress Anne E. Curry at the time of his death in 1991.

David Arkin was not related either to the actor Alan Arkin or Alan's son Adam Arkin (also an actor). Alan's father was David I. Arkin.

Arkin was known among his friends and colleagues for having introduced his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger (then Arnold Strong) to Altman, at the time The Long Goodbye was being cast. This began Schwarzenegger's career in film.[1]

On January 14, 1991 he committed suicide in Los Angeles, California at the age of 49.


I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968) as Herbie Fine 
Hawaii Five-O (television series, "Killer Bee" episode (1970)) as George Loomis 
Storefront Lawyers (1970, television series) as Gabriel Kaye 
Up in the Cellar (1970) as Hugo Caine 
MASH (1970) as Staff Sergeant Vollmer/PA Announcer 
The Long Goodbye (1973) as Harry 
Nashville (1975) as Norman 
Medical Story (television series) 
Cannonball! (1976) as TV Producer Anchorman 
All the President's Men (1976) as Eugene Bachinski 
Whitney and the Robot (1979, television series) as David 

Popeye (1980) as The Mailman/Police Officer


1. Zuckoff, Mitchell. Robert Altman: An Oral Biography, Random House, 2009, p.254.

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