Peter Crombie, a classic comic menace on TV’s “Seinfeld,” dies at 71

Peter Crombie, the actor who memorably played “Crazy” Joe Davola on TV’s “Seinfeld,” has died. He was 71.

“It is with shock and extreme sadness that I share my ex-husband died this morning,” announced Crombie’s ex-wife Nadine Kijner on Thursday in an Instagram post, sharing several photos from their wedding. Kijner told TMZ that he died Wednesday from an undisclosed illness.

“Thank you for so many wonderful memories and being such a good man,” Kijner continued in her post. “Fly free into the unboundless source of light, Peter. May you be greeted with love by your parents and Oliver [Crombie’s pet cat]. So, so many people loved you because you were a kind, giving, caring and creative soul.”

Raised in Chicago, Crombie is best known for stealing scenes in the fourth season of NBC’s “Seinfeld” as “Crazy” Joe Davola, a psychopath obsessed with terrorizing the titular character (Jerry Seinfeld). Crombie later played Frankenstein’s creature in NBC’s 1997 miniseries “House of Frankenstein.”

“I’ve gone from terrorizing Jerry, Kramer and Elaine to terrorizing all of Los Angeles,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 1997 of the two roles. Though he spent his career playing “tormented people,” his “Seinfeld” character remained his most well-known, thanks to the series’ syndication. “I can always tell when they’re airing it because I’ll be walking down the street and someone will go, ‘Hey, Joe!’”

A graduate of Yale Drama School, Crombie also appeared in the films “Se7en,” “My Dog Skip,” “The Doors,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Natural Born Killers” and 1988’s remake of “The Blob,” as well as the TV shows “Law & Order,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “L.A. Law,” “Get Smart” and “NYPD Blue,” among others. His last onscreen performance is credited as a 2000 episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Friends and colleagues of Crombie paid tribute to the late actor on social media. “Am heartbroken by the death of my good friend,” comedian Lewis Black wrote on X. “He was a gifted artist. Not only was he a wonderful actor but an immensely talented writer. More importantly he was as sweet as he was intelligent and I am a better person for knowing him.”

“For those who knew him, he was a gentle and loyal friend of soft words and expressive work as an actor and a writer,” director and photographer Bill Stetz wrote on Facebook. “Rest in peace, Peter.”

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