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Martin Mull, beloved actor known for “Fernwood 2 Night,” “Roseanne” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” dies at 80


Martin Mull, whose droll, esoteric comedy and acting made him a hip sensation in the 1970s and later a beloved guest star on sitcoms including “Roseanne” and “Arrested Development,” has died, his daughter said Friday. He was 80. 

Mull’s Daughter, TV writer and comic artist Maggie Mull, said her father died at home on Thursday after “a valiant fight against a long illness.”

Mull, who was also a guitarist and painter, came to national fame with a recurring role on the Norman Lear-created satirical soap opera “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” and the starring role in its spinoff, “Fernwood 2 Night,” on which he played the host of a satirical talk show.

Actor Martin Mull
Martin Mull at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival premiere of the Netflix film “A Futile And Stupid Gesture at Eccles Center Theatre” on January 24, 2018, in Park City, Utah. 

Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Netflix


“He was known for excelling at every creative discipline imaginable and also for doing Red Roof Inn commercials,” Maggie Mull said in an Instagram post. “He would find that joke funny. He was never not funny. My dad will be deeply missed by his wife and daughter, by his friends and coworkers, by fellow artists and comedians and musicians, and —the sign of a truly exceptional person— by many, many dogs.”

Melissa Joan Hart, who acted alongside Mull in the series “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” paid tribute to him on Instagram on Friday, calling him “a wonderful man who I am better for knowing.”

“I have such fond memories of working with him and being in awe of his huge body of work,” she wrote.  

Fellow “Sabrina” actress Caroline Rhea described Mull as “brilliantly funny and kind” in her own social media post.

“Your impact on the world will never be forgotten,” Rhea wrote. “What a gift it was to know you Martin.” 

Known for his blonde hair and well-trimmed mustache, Mull was born in Chicago, raised in Ohio and Connecticut. He studied art in Rhode Island and Rome. He combined his music and comedy in hip Hollywood clubs in the 1970s.

“In 1976 I was a guitar player and sit-down comic appearing at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip when Norman Lear walked in and heard me,” Mull told The Associated Press in 1980. “He cast me as the wife beater on ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.’ Four months later I was spun off on my own show.”

In the 1980s he appeared in films including “Mr. Mom” and “Clue,” and in the 1990s had a recurring role on “Roseanne.”

He would later play private eye Gene Parmesan on “Arrested Development,” and would be nominated for an Emmy in 2016 for a guest turn on “Veep.”

“What I did on ‘Veep’ I’m very proud of, but I’d like to think it’s probably more collective, at my age it’s more collective,” Mull told the AP after his nomination. “It might go all the way back to ‘Fernwood.'”

Other comedians and actors were often his biggest fans.

“Martin was the greatest,” “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig said in an X post. “So funny, so talented, such a nice guy. Was lucky enough to act with him on The Jackie Thomas Show and treasured every moment being with a legend. Fernwood Tonight was so influential in my life.”





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