Mar. 20th, 1931
New York City, New York, USA
Hal Linden's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2002 - Time Changer
1997 - Out to Sea
1964 - That Man from Rio
1960 - Bells Are Ringing
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Special Guest Star
Rabbi Isaac Bass
Born in 1931, Bronx-born Hal Linden was the son of Charles Lipshitz and Frances Rosen and had an older brother who would become a future professor of music at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Similarly musical, Hal took up classical clarinet in his late teens and played regularly with symphony orchestras. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he studied music at Queens College, moving later to City College to pursue business. Hal also played in dance bands and was asked to join Sammy Kaye on tour before being drafted into the Army, where he sang and provided entertainment for the troops. This sparked an interest in acting, and, upon receiving his discharge, he enrolled at New York's American Theatre Wing where he trained in voice and drama. In 1955, Hal met Frances Martin, a dancer. They married three years later, and she gave up her career to raise a family.
Hal's first Broadway show was in "Bells Are Ringing" where he understudied lead Sydney Chaplin. During the 1960s, Hal accumulated more musical credits in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," "Subways Are for Sleeping," "The Apple Tree" and "The Pajama Game." He won the 1971 Tony award for his role in "The Rothschilds." This particular stage success led to a TV career that culminated in the title role on the popular "Barney Miller" (1975) sitcom. Emmy-nominated every year the program aired, Hal became a household name. Since that time, he has appeared in other lesser TV series including "Blacke's Magic" (1986), and "Jack's Place" (1992). He has held a secondary presence in such films as A New Life (1988) and Out to Sea (1997).
More musical leads such as "I Do! I Do!" and "The Pajama Game" came his way, along with dramatic pursuits in "I'm Not Rappaport" and "The Sisters Rosenzweig." Hal has also undertaken musical tours in his continuing role as clarinetist. He and wife Frances are avid golfers during their spare time.
- Chose his stage name on the way from Philadelphia to an acting job in New York City. He saw the water tower in Linden, New Jersey, and the rest is history.
- Met his wife when she was a dancer and she got him a reading for the understudy of Jeffery Moss in the musical "Bells Are Ringing" on Broadyway. 'Judy Holliday' (qv), the show's (and movie's) star, was at their wedding.
- Played clarinet with the New York American Symphony at the age of fifteen.
- He was offered and turned down the lead role in _"St. Elsewhere" (1982)_ (qv).
- In 1984, he carried the Olympic Torch and ran a portion of the Los Angeles segment.
- Even though he was trained as a clarinet player, he often played saxophone in live jazz bands to earn a living as a young man.
- Best remembered by the public for his starring role on _"Barney Miller" (1975)_ (qv).
- Won Broadway's 1971 Tony Award as Best Actor (Musical) for "The Rothschilds."