Ron Leibman death: Actor known for playing Rachel’s father in Friends, dies at 82

Ron Leibman, who played Rachel’s father in Friends, has died at the age of 82.

The actor died yesterday (6 December) in New York City from pneumonia, a representative for his family confirmed.

Leibman won a Tony Award in 1993 for originating the role of the closeted gay lawyer Roy Cohn in the first Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. He also appeared in films including Norma Rae, Slaughterhouse-Five and Where’s Poppa?

But his most recognisable role was as the taciturn Leonard Green, father of Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel, on several episodes of Friends.

Speaking to the AV Club in 2011, Leibman said he almost turned down the sitcom as “it sounded stupid”, but his daughter convinced him to accept the part.

“My daughter, then, who was of that age, said, ‘No, you have to do it, you have to do it! I love that show, and I want to meet those kids,’” Leibman said. “I said, ‘All right. I’ll do it. I’ll do it once, but that’s all I’m doing.’ So I did and had a very nice time, and they asked me back, and my daughter did get to meet those kids, so I was a big hero in the house.

“It’s amazing, the power of the tube,” he continued. “I’ve done all this body of work, and they say, ‘Oh yes, Rachel’s father.’ I go, ‘Give me a break.’”

Leibman is survived by his wife, the Arrested Development actor Jessica Walter, and his stepdaughter Brooke Bowman, who is a television executive.

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