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David Landsberg, actor, screenwriter, producer, dies at 73

The Massapequa native carved out a career that spanned decades.

American actor, writer, and producer David Landsberg.

American actor, writer, and producer David Landsberg. Photo Credit: Mike Kendall

Actor, screenwriter and producer David Landsberg, formerly of Massapequa, died Sunday in Los Angeles, following complications from surgery for esophageal cancer. He was 73.

His death was confirmed by his brother, Joseph Landsberg, 76, of Centereach, who called his sibling "one of the kindest, loving, most generous and sweetest souls to ever have graced this planet."

A longtime working actor, Landsberg carved out a career that spanned decades. His most regular role was that of balding and bespectacled naval recruit Skolnick in the 1976-1978 military sitcom "CPO Sharkey," starring Don Rickles, and he also had guest parts in series including "Rhoda," "The Love Boat," "Eight is Enough," "Hart to Hart," "Bosom Buddies" and "Fantasy Island."

On that latter series, Landsberg broke into screenwriting. After episodes of that and other shows including "Blossom," on which he was also a producer, and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," he co-created Dudley Moore's short-lived CBS sitcom "Daddy's Girls" (1994), featuring Keri Russell in one of her earliest roles.

Landsberg additionally was an executive producer of "Herman's Head" and a co-executive producer of the 1996-2000 sitcom "Cosby." As late as 2010 he wrote and produced the comedy feature "Sex Tax: Based on a True Story," about the 1999 IRS takeover of a Nevada brothel.

His films as an actor included "The Jerk" (1979), "Shoot the Moon" (1982) and "Let It Ride" (1989). With Lorin Dreyfuss, brother of Richard Dreyfuss, Landsberg co-wrote and co-starred in the film comedies "Detective School Dropouts" (1986) and "Dutch Treat" (1987).

Born Sept. 3, 1944, in Brooklyn, one of two children of Arthur, an attorney, and Sylvia, a homemaker, Landsberg moved with his family to Massapequa in 1957. After graduating from Plainedge High School in North Massapequa, he attended what was then Hofstra College for two years before being drafted in 1967 and serving in the Army Signal Corps in Vietnam. Returning home the next year, he earned a marketing degree from the University of Maryland.

After a stint with the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson in New York, Landsberg returned to Maryland to begin a career in theater, and in 1976 relocated to California.

His 1966 marriage to Jean Hunt ended in divorce in 1987. Besides his brother, Landsberg is survived by his daughter, Caryn Landsberg O'Neil, and son, Daniel Landsberg, both of California; three grandchildren; and niece Kristen Pascocello of Ronkonkoma and nephew Bryan Landsberg of Sunnyside, Queens.

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