Richard Herd, a veteran character actor best known for his oddball turn as Seinfeld’s Mr. Wilhelm, has died. His wife, the actor Patricia Crowder Herd, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he died of cancer-related causes on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 87.
Born in Boston, Herd overcame a serious bone infection as a child and joined the U.S. Army before pursuing acting in New York City. After starring in several plays, Herd made his screen debut alongside a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1970's Hercules In New York. From there, he secured key roles in All the President’s Men and The China Syndrome, as well as recurring parts on series like Starsky And Hutch, Dallas, and T.J. Hooker. Sci-fi fans may also remember him as Supreme Commander John in NBC’s V and its sequel and as the Klingon L’Kor on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Though an accomplished dramatic actor, Herd was a comic highlight on Seinfeld, appearing in 11 episodes as George’s daffy boss, Mr. Wilhelm, a malleable, increasingly absurd character who was brainwashed by a carpet-cleaning cult before reappearing to steal George’s dream job scouting for the New York Mets.
“Seinfeld was one of the best jobs I ever had,” Herd said in a 2019 interview. “There were no ‘stars’ on that show, they were all genuinely nice people to work with. It got me a tremendous amount of recognition and still does because it plays all the time.”
Herd stayed busy in his twilight years. He played the menacing Roman Armitage in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and also appeared in Clint Eastwood’s The Mule and Ike Barinholtz’s The Oath.
In his spare time, he painted and made lamps and jewelry. “All my lamps and jewelry are made from scratch—they’re one of a kind,” he told the St. Charles Herald Guide. “I work with chrome, brass, bone, copper, steel, aluminum, tin, old wood and most anything rusted. I find it in junkyards, on the streets, motorcycle shops, old school band rooms, and people also give me stuff. I create it for myself and if others like it, bravo!”