Fred Melamed

Fred Melamed


Life Story

Highly gifted, heavy-set character actor Fred Melamed was born in New York City, the son of Syma (Krichefsky), an actress, and Louis Melamed. His father was a television producer, having contributed to such watershed comedies as Car 54, Where Are You, and Sergeant Bilko. He received his theatrical training at the Yale School of Drama, after which he appeared with resident companies including Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater, The Kennedy Center, The Yale Repertory Theater, and as a founding member of Shakespeare & Co. In 1983, he made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-Winning Amadeus.

On television, Melamed headlines with Maria Bamford on the hit Netflix series, Lady Dynamite, from Mitch Hurwitz and Pam Brady. He recurs as errant father Charles Cole on Hulu's Golden Globe-nominated Casual, patrician chick-magnet J. Cronkite Valley Forge on New Girl, sports casting legend Glen Klose on Now We're Talking, and Sir Patrick Stewart's messed-up psychiatrist Dr. Mendelson on Starz' Blunt Talk. In the past, Melamed's major small screen roles have included Harvey Oberholt on House of Lies, Avi Mensusen on Girls, Professor Donald Holt on Married, Leonard Hillman on Childrens Hospital, Larry David's name-dropping psychiatrist Arthur Thurgood from Curb Your Enthusiasm, tough-guy jurist Alan Karpman on The Good Wife, and irascible voiceover legend Fred Melamed opposite Robin Williams on The Crazy Ones.

In film, Melamed has had a long association with Woody Allen. He has appeared in 7 Allen films, including the Oscar-Winning Hannah and Her Sisters, Another Woman, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Radio Days, Husbands & Wives, Hollywood Ending, and Shadows and Fog.

But it was for his portrayal of "sensitive" villain Sy Ableman, in Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man, nominated for Best Picture at the 2010 Academy Awards, that Melamed became most widely known. For his performance, he won the Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award, New York Magazine listed his as among the Best Performances of The Decade, and Empire called Sy Ableman "One of The Best Coen Bros. Characters of All Time." Melamed appeared on the Best Supporting Actor Oscar ballot of several American critics, including A.O. Scott of The New York Times, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times, and Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune. He was named by Harry Domenico Rossi as among The 25 Greatest Screen Villains of All Time.


Leslee Spieler (17 January 1999 - present) ( 2 children)


Graduate of Yale Drama School.
Son of producer Louis Melamed. Father was right-hand-man to television pioneer Nat Hiken and producer of many early shows, including Car 54, Where Are You? (1961), Sgt. Bilko a.k.a. The Phil Silvers Show (1955) and others.
Has twin sons with autism. Active, with wife Leslee, as an advocate for families whose lives are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Is a prominent voice actor. Has dubbed several other actors' entire performances, including villain Don Cabeza, in Roland Joffe's 1986 The Mission, with Robert De Niro.
He was adopted. His biological mother is actor/director Nancy Zala, and, by his biological father, a psychoanalyst, he is related to renowned acting family the Adlers, including Luther Adler & Stella Adler.
Immediately after drama school, became an actor in Minneapolis' famed Guthrie Theatre Company.
Appeared on Broadway in Amadeus.
Was an original member of Western Massachusetts' Shakespeare & Co.
Was an instructor at legendary performing arts camp, Stagedoor Manor.
While still in high school, played lead guitar on record of hit song Puppet On A String.
His character of Sy Ableman from A Serious Man (2009) was named by Empire Magazine as "One of the best Coen Bros. characters of all time".
When Ethan Coen was asked which of the many characters he has created he was proudest of, he responded, "Sy Ableman, Fred Melamed's character from A Serious Man (2009). The best movie monster ever".
In a Hollywood Reporter piece titled "The Best And The Brightest Choose The Best And The Brightest", 2010 Best Actor Oscar winner Jeff Bridges was asked to name his personal favorite performance of the year. His reply: "I got a kick out of Fred Melamed who played Sy Ableman, the guy who steals the wife in A Serious Man...".
Listed by Harry Domenico Rossi as among "The 25 Greatest Screen Villains of All Time".
Had a severe fear of flying which prevented him from setting foot on a airplane for 20 years. In 1998, he was able to overcome the phobia and fly to Japan to be the voice of the Winter Olympics for CBS.
Fred is a first cousin of the Countess Sondes, the former Phyllis Kane Schmertz (firstly the widow of Robert Schmertz, 1972-1975 principal owner of the NBA Boston Celtics). Eleven years after Robert Schmertz died, The 5th Earl Sondes of Lees Court in the County of Kent (England, UK) married the widowed Phyllis Kane Schmertz in 1986, who thereby became Countess Sondes. When The Earl Sondes died in 1996, the Dowager Countess Sondes inherited Lees Court, the seat of the Barons and Earls Sondes, when both the Earldom and Barony became extinct due to no male heirs.


Personal Quotes 

On Looks And Casting In Films: I have a secret aspiration to be considered for a part where it doesn't matter what you look like to play it. Most of the time when I receive a script, it says something like 'Rosenberg is the fat, slovenly Mayor, who doesn't want the kids to use the Skateboard Park', or 'Stein is a pompous, rotund attorney, imposing to all.' It would be so freeing to get a script where my character is simply described as 'A Man'....
On Stage Acting: I'm one of relatively few stage-trained actors who doesn't much like acting on stage. It feels kind of like riding the Cyclone at Coney Island, which I did when I was eight. When it was all over, I was glad I had done it, but most of the time when it was actually happening, I was just kind of hanging on for dear life.
I think of myself as a student of acting. I regard it like poker. You can learn the rules in an afternoon, but it takes a lifetime to master.



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