Speed Reads


Philip Baker Hall, prolific actor with roles in Magnolia and Seinfeld, dies at 90

Philip Baker Hall, a character actor known for his roles in dozens of films and TV shows from Magnolia to Seinfeld, has died. He was 90. 

Hall's death was confirmed Monday by his neighbor, sportswriter Sam Farmer, who said the actor died Sunday "surrounded by loved ones."

Hall's screen acting career began in the 1970s, and The Washington Post described him in 2017 as "your favorite actor whose name you can't quite place," who frequently popped up in memorable supporting roles. He collaborated with director Paul Thomas Anderson with Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia, and some of his other film credits included Say Anything…, The Rock, The Truman Show, Rush Hour, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Bruce Almighty, Zodiac, and Argo

On the television side, Hall appeared in one or two episodes of dozens of shows, including Seinfeld, where he hilariously played "library investigations officer" Joe Bookman. He also portrayed a neighbor character on Modern Family, and other TV credits included Good Times, M*A*S*H, Family Ties, Cheers, The West Wing, and Curb Your Enthusiasm

"When I first came out here, I was totally naive," Hall recalled to The Washington Post in 2017. "I didn't know where to start. Television really had no meaning for me. We never had a television. I didn't see myself doing a movie. Ever. It didn't seem possible or likely." 

Farmer mourned Hall as "one of the wisest, most talented and kindest people I've ever met," while actor Michael McKean noted he was "never not good."