Gary Friedkin, Star Wars and Happy Days Actor, Dead at 70

Gary Friedkin, an actor known for his work in projects like Happy Days, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Young Doctors in Love, has passed away at the age of 70. The news of his passing was announced by his family in an obituary in the Tribune Chronicle, which revealed that he passed away on Friday, December 2nd at a hospice facility in Youngstown, Ohio. He reportedly died due to complications from COVID-19.

Born in Youngstown on November 23, 1952, Friedkin eventually moved to Los Angeles and made his onscreen debut in 1981's Under the Rainbow. He proceeded to make memorable appearances in Young Doctors in Love as Dr. Milton Chamberlain, and in Happy Days as Clarence, the elusive cook who became a running joke of the series.

Friedkin factored into a number of memorable genre projects, including as a creature in the "Personal Demons" episode of The Twilight Zone, a member of a biker gang in Blade Runner, and an Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. After appearances in The Practice, Chicago Hope, Shut Up and Shoot!, and Perversions of Science, his last onscreen role was as Shorty in 2016's Mother's Day, the final film directed by Gary Marshall.

In his spare time, Friedkin was an active member of the Little People of America, attending many conventions across the United States. 

"He was a gift to all who knew him as an amazing son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, great-uncle and friend," his obituary reads in part. "Gary lived his life to the absolute fullest, bringing endless laughs to his family and many friends, while never letting the obstacles he faced get in his way. Gary put countless smiles on people's faces and left so many with their own special "Gary story."

"While Gary may have been short of stature, he was a giant amongst his family and friends," his obituary adds. "His legacy will live on as stories are told and retold for years to come by all who loved him."

A scholarship has been set up in Friedkin's name at his alma mater, Youngstown State, with special attention given to applicants with a disability or a concentration in the performing arts. A celebration of his life will be held in the spring of 2023.

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Our thoughts are with Friedkin's family, friends, and fans at this time.