Phillip Baker Hall of ‘Seinfeld’ is dead at age 90


June 13, 2022

By Richard Schertzer

Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Philip Baker Hall, who is known to Seinfeld fans as Lt. Bookman, the library detective, and Curb Your Enthusiasm fans as the ultra-serious Dr. Morrison, and to movie fans as any in a long list of memorable characters in films such as Hard Eight, Magnolia, Boogie Knights, Dogville, The Insider, The Truman Show, Rush Hour and many more has died, according to his friend and neighbor, the Los Angeles Times sportswriter Sam Farmer, as well as Deadline. He was 90.

Hall will be remembered by the legions of Seinfeld fans for playing one of the most popular one-off characters the show ever saw. He was Lt. Bookman, the library detective who tracked Jerry Seinfeld down for not returning a book the “joy boy” — as Bookman called him, among other things — had checked out in 1971. His diatribe about Seinfeld and his “good-time buddies” is chock-full of quotable lines that still tickle fans of the show.

As a film actor, Hall had a small part in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point in 1970. He had other small parts in films such as Coma, Nothing in Common, Say Anything, Ghostbusters II, An Innocent Man and many more, but his breakout film role came in Paul Thomas Anderson’s feature directorial debut Hard Eight, in which he played professional gambler Sydney who took John C. Reilly’s character under his wing.

Hall went on to make three films with Anderson, including Boogie Nights and Magnolia, in which he memorably played game show host Jimmy Gator, who has bone cancer.

With his distinctive voice and innate gravitas, Hall was a go-to for filmmakers who wanted a memorable supporting character. His list of smaller roles alone would make for an admirable career. They include parts in The Rock, Air Force One, Enemy of the State, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Rules of Engagement, The Contender, The Sum of All Fears, Bruce Almighty, Zodiac and Argo.

Farmer announced Hall’s death on Twitter, writing, “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.”