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Don Calfa, Character Actor Known for ‘Return of the Living Dead,’ Dies at 76

Variety logo Variety 12/2/2016 Sarah Ahern
© Provided by Variety

Don Calfa, who played the role of the Ernie Kaltenbrunner the mortician in “The Return of the Living Dead,” has died. He was 76.

Calfa’s death comes just two days before what would have been his 77th birthday on Dec. 3. The actor’s death was confirmed on his Facebook page. “Don passed away today – please keep him and his family in your prayers RIP,” the post said.

Calfa was born in Brooklyn, New York, and began his acting career when he was in high school, dropping out to join the Actors’ Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. Before acting in films, he started out working in theater, appearing in multiple Broadway productions including “Mating Dance” in 1965.

Calfa was best known for his role in the 1985 cult classic “The Return of the Living Dead,” in which he played the anomalous mortician Ernie. In 1989, Calfa portrayed Paulie the Hitman in the dark comedy “Weekend at Bernie’s.” He also started in several other cult comedies during his lifetime, including “Treasure of the Moon Goddess” in 1987 and “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown” in 1989, which also starred Billy Bob Thornton.

During his career, Calfa worked with some of the most renowned actors and directors, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Warren Beatty.


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