Philip Baker Hall, a character actor who impressed as a police lieutenant hunting a long overdue library book in Seinfeld, a pornography filmmaker in Boogie Nights and disturbed TV host Jimmy Gator in Magnolia, among his 185 credits on IMDb, has died. He was 90.
Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Farmer, who said he counted Hall as a neighbor and friend, announced his death.
"My neighbor, friend, and one of the wisest, most talented and kindest people I've ever met, Philip Baker Hall, died peacefully last night," Farmer wrote on social media. "He was surrounded by loved ones. The world has an empty space in it."
My neighbor, friend, and one of the wisest, most talented and kindest people I’ve ever met, Philip Baker Hall, died peacefully last night. He was surrounded by loved ones. The world has an empty space in it. pic.twitter.com/pBCaILjHPT
— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) June 13, 2022
Hall's wife of nearly 40 years, Holly Wolfle Hall, confirmed his death to the Associated Press. She said that he died Sunday "surrounded by loved ones" in Glendale, Calif., following a few weeks of feeling unwell.
"His voice at the end was still just as powerful," she said.
Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to an agent for Hall for comment.
Hall was famously in his 30s when he began his prolific career, with one-off roles in shows such as Good Times, MASH and The Waltons. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he continued to appear on shows such as Miami Vice, Family Ties and Falcon Crest. But it was on the third season of Seinfeld, as the hard-nosed library detective Lt. Joe Bookman, who was hunting down a book that Jerry had borrowed in 1971 and never returned, for which he was most often remembered.
"It's been over 20 years since we shot that episode, and I still can't go out in public for very long before someone says, 'My god, it's Bookman!' Or: 'Are you Bookman? I returned that library book, I swear!'" Hall told Rolling Stone in 2014, per the Hollywood Reporter. "It's not just in New York or L.A.; it's happened in a mall in the Midwest or even other countries where they air the show. The guy made an impression."
Bookman was one of the many characters who returned to the NBC favorite for its 1998 finale. Hall told the magazine that it was one of the last roles for which he had to audition. His later TV work included Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Loop and The West Wing.
At the same time, Hall had also embarked upon an extensive career in film.
He eventually worked with director Paul Thomas Anderson several times, including on Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Hard Eight. He played a network executive in Jim Carrey's The Truman Show in 1998; storied CBS producer Don Hewitt in 1999's The Insider, a nominee for Best Picture at the Oscars that year; Defense Secretary Becker in 2002 Ben Affleck-Morgan Freeman thriller The Sum of All Fears; and scores of other roles over the years.
Tributes quickly began to roll in from his former co-stars and others in the entertainment industry.
Philip Baker Hall was a great actor and a profoundly kind human being. Well done, sir. https://t.co/4EfNCmITU2
— Bradley Whitford (@BradleyWhitford) June 13, 2022
This is, hands down, the greatest guest spot in a sitcom, ever. RIP Philip Baker Hall https://t.co/qKL4cpdtYX
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) June 13, 2022
Oh man, one of the greats! I had the opportunity to work with Philip Baker Hall twice, and I was already such a huge fan of his. He couldn’t have been sweeter and more of a consummate professional (also a great director). Definition of a “class act” pic.twitter.com/HlKGLO4D6M
— Topher Grace (@TopherGrace) June 13, 2022
It was a dream come true to synthesize classic comedy with one of our favorite references, Dragnet and no one could have personified that character better than the great Philip Baker Hall. And he had the greatest straight man in Jerry. Check PBH on Curb too. #RIPPhilipBakerHall https://t.co/AjErxedZaN
— Larry Charles (@larrycharlesism) June 13, 2022
Never not good. RIP, Philip Baker Hall. https://t.co/SD44tgAk6E
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) June 13, 2022
RIP to the great Philip Baker Hall. He came to ROOM 104 in our 1st season and blew us all away. A true artist.
— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) June 13, 2022