Edit
Richard Portnow Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (84)

Overview (2)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A veteran of stage, film and television with a variety of characters to his credit, Richard Portnow was named one of the "Actors We Love" by the actors' trade newspaper Back Stage West. "Portnow knows exactly how to hook an audience with every character." This Brooklyn native has worked steadily for 30 years and has built a solid list of credits, appearing in some of the most highly regarded and successful films and television shows of the past three decades.

His entire family hails from Brooklyn. His folks, Al and Flo, are gone, but he has a brother (Jay), a sister (Gayle), two nephews (John and Sam) and three nieces (Samara, Ilana and Maia). He graduated with a BA degree as a speech and theater major from Brooklyn College. He did not shine while in college, and was discouraged from continuing as an actor with the critique that he was "hopeless and without any ability or talent" (he continues to wonder if the faculty was right). He has been a bartender, an antique dealer, a boxer, an international drug trafficker, a fifth-grade teacher in the NYC public school system, a competitive body builder, a truck driver, a bouncer, a bagel maker, a short-order cook, a marathon runner, a designer, a competitive gymnast, a background extra, a disco dancer at the famed "Arthur" discotheque, and a confused and aimless layabout. Richard is 6'0", weighs in at a trim 180 lb. and continues to box. He has excellent defensive skills and his ability to stop punches with his face has made him a local favorite.

Portnow assayed the role of attorney Hal "Mel" Melvoin on the Emmy-winning HBO series The Sopranos (1999), the lawyer for Uncle Junior, whom he singlehandedly kept out of prison and managed to get placed under house arrest instead. His rates for defending Corrado Soprano (Uncle Juniors's full name) are astronomical, but as Uncle June has said, "Mel, you're worth every penny". He has held this role since the show's inception in 1999.

Richard began his professional career at the famed Cafe La Mama in New York City, appearing in plays by Tom Eyen, Leonard Melfi, Jeff Weiss, Megan Terry, Tom O'Horgan and Lanford Wilson. He won "The Best Newcomer of the Year" award from Show Business Magazine as a result of his early work off-off-Broadway. He continued his stage career with starring roles on Broadway in "The House of Blue Leaves" and "A Month of Sundays". He was in the original cast of "Moonchildren" at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre in London. He has also worked extensively at some of the most highly regarded regional theaters in the country, including The Long Wharf Theater, The Berkshire Theatre Festival for the brilliant director Josephine Abady, The Philadelphia Drama Guild, The Lowell Regional Theater and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Neil Simon's "Oscar and Felix" at The Geffen Playhouse marked Richard's Los Angeles stage debut. His has also appeared in Woody Allen's "Writer's Block", which was directed by Allen at The Atlantic Theater Company in New York.

Richard has been fortunate and privileged to work with some of the best directors in film today. Among those who have had a profound influence on him are Barry Levinson, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, David Fincher, Woody Allen, Sydney Pollack, James Foley, Jim Jarmusch, Heywood Gould, Cameron Crowe and Sidney Lumet. He has also appeared as a regular on the critically acclaimed series EZ Streets (1996) and on the police drama Ryan Caulfield: Year One (1999). He has had guest-starring appearances on ""Elementary" (2016), "The Good Wife"(2015), "Grimm"(2015), "Parks and Recreation" (2014), "Suits (2014), "Castle" (2014), "CSI New York" (2012), "Hawaii Five-0" (2012), "Nip/Tuck." (2009), "Cold Case" (2008), "Boston Legal" (2006), Seinfeld (1989), Mad About You (1992), Going to California (2001), Spin City (1996), NYPD Blue (1993), The Shield (2002), Dave's World (1993), Civil Wars (1991), Homefront (1991), Double Rush (1995), JAG (1995), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993), The Nanny (1993), Middle Ages (1992), The Commish (1991) Wiseguy (1987) and Walker, Texas Ranger (1993).

Richard has also starred in numerous movies of the week and mini series, most notably Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor (2001), Double Bang (2001), Bella Mafia (1997), A Deadly Silence (1989), Original Sin (1997), Peter Gunn (1989) and Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1995).

Richard shares his home with an unpredictable Chow/Shiba Inu named "Sweetie" and a feisty English Cocker Spaniel named "Jackpot" Richard is an avid collector of Americana from the 1940s and 1950s, with special focus on the original oil paintings created for the "pulp magazine" covers of the 1930s and 1940s.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Richard Portnow and Management

Spouse (1)

Sarah Buchan (6 August 2007 - present)

Trade Mark (1)

Gravelly voice

Trivia (84)

Has been on Broadway twice. The House Of Blue Leaves and A Month Of Sundays.
His interview for Woody Allen's Radio Days, his first film role, lasted less than 30 seconds.
Was considered for the role played by Bruno Kirby in Good Morning Vietnam, but declined to be in contention because of a Broadway commitment.
Collects the original artwork created for pulp magazine covers.
Has worn a suit and has been clean shaven in 80% of his film and television work.
Loves to wear cargo pants because of all the pockets.
Never wears, and doesn't own blue jeans.
Has been in 3 films for Woody Allen (Radio Days, Everybody Says I Love You, and the just completed Cafe Society) and one play written and directed by Mr Allen (Writer's Block).
Has broken his right hand three times.
Had a full impact collision on Sunset Bl and Crescent Heights Bl in 2002 when a drunk driver ran a red light. He walked away with minor bruises. His doctor told him that his fitness level prevented significant neck and back injuries.
Has played studio heads opposite Helen Mirren in two films. Barney Balaban, head of Paramount, in Hitchcock. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, in Trumbo.
Grandfather Harry Landman was a prompter in the Yiddish theater in New York City in the 1940's.
Was a member of the famed Cafe La Mama Theater Ensemble in N Y C.
Won the Best Newcomer of The Year Award in N Y in the Showbusiness Newspaper awards competition.
Appeared at The Royal Court Theatre in London.
Started boxing in The Police Athletic League in Brooklyn, N Y.
Studied acting with Kim Stanley and Michael Howard.
Named his first dog HeyBoy. In the 1950's t v series Have Gun Will Travel, Richard Boone (Paladin) referred to his valet as HeyBoy.
Worked as a waiter at the famed Arthur discotheque in N Y.
Quit acting for 7 years and tended bar at hot spots in N Y and London.
Has been in front of the camera in: Sao Palo, Stockholm, Bangkok, London, Acapulco, Berlin, Toronto, Vancouver, Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Reno, Dallas, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Wilmington, Albuquerque, Kosciusko, New Orleans, Santo Domingo, and Oahu.
Graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. Notable former students include: Shirley Booth, Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Elli Walach, Barbara Stanwyck, Beverly Sills, Lainie Kazan, Gabe Kaplan, Susan Hayward, John Forsythe, Bobby Fischer, and Jeff Chandler,.
Was banned from membership at the Crunch Gym on Sunset Boulevard after an explosive altercation with two employees. He was told never to return.
A favorite role was in Ron Cosentino's Fallen Arches. He was the unpredictably violent gangster Nicky Kaplan. Costarring with Karen Black and Carmine Giovinazzo he played a man with six toes on his left foot and had the line, "When my shoes don't fit, I get headaches".
He is a voracious reader.
Grew up in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York.
His first professional stage appearance was Off-Off-Off Broadway at The Old Reliable Theater Tavern. The play was The Bundle Man. At one point he jumped up and declared "And furthermore..... He could not remember the rest of the line and left the stage mortified.
In Heart And Souls his character aged from 35 to 75. For the younger Max Marco he was given a toupee to wear. For the older Max Marco he appeared sans toupee but had 6 prosthetics applied every morning. Eyes, upper lip, jowls and neck. The make-up application took almost three hours each morning.
Has worn a toupee only once in front of the camera.
Gained 20 pounds to play Harry Prince in Neil Simon's Laughter On The 23rd Floor.
The actor working today whom he most admires is Tom Hardy.
His favorite film is On The Waterfront.
Is of the opinion that Marlon Brando's performance in On The Waterfront is the best and most indelible performance by an actor ever to be illuminated on screen.
Is an animal advocate and is involved with Jennifer Smith's Noah's Ark Rescue group.
Does not eat meat.
Based his character Ruben, in The Squeeze, on a waiter in a Greenwich Village coffee shop known as The Bagel. You got a bagel with everything there. If you ordered a bagel, you were asked if you would like a bagel with that.
Has been a bedside volunteer at The Children's Hospital Los Angeles for more than 5 years. His work with sick children is one of the most important aspects of his life.
Has eclectic tastes in music. Likes classical, reggae, 50's oldies, rock, hip hop, opera, electronic, folk rock, rap, and Zither music.
Has been weight training for more than 40 years. He was never a power lifter and never bulked up. Instead he has always preferred to embrace endurance lifting, often doing 50 reps per set.
Played Junior Soprano's lawyer (Melvoin) on The Sopranos for five years. In the late 1970's he had an altercation with Tony Sirico. Sirico went on to play Paulie Walnuts on The Soprano's. They never spoke about their early encounter.
Was a certifiable "Hippie" during the late1960's Flower Power Movement. Wore a tambourine on a silk rope around his neck and referred to himself as The Cosmic Messenger Of Love.
Was arrested twice while in London during the 1970's.
Tended bar at the popular Spring Street Bar in SoHo N Y C. His partner behind the bar, Heywood Gould, wrote the movie Cocktail. The film was largely based on the bartenders at that establishment.
Bought a ticket to see the Off-Broadway production of The House Of Blue Leaves in the early 1970's. In 1987 he played the part of Billy Einhorn in a Broadway revival of the play.
Spent an afternoon with WBC Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton. Asked the champ what was his toughest fight. He responded with "Ali". When he asked him what was his favorite fight, his answer was the same.
Does not know how to swim.
Never intended to be an actor. Was flunking out of Brooklyn College and a friend told him that taking an acting class would guarantee an "A". His friend was right. He remained at the college and majored in acting because it seemed easier than any of the other courses.
Was interviewed by Roland Joffe for the part of Fielding in the film The Mission. The part went to Liam Neeson.
As a result of growing up in N Y C. and never needing a car, he didn't learn to drive until he came to Los Angeles at the age of 40.
Was interviewed by Hal Ashby for the part of Harold in the film Harold And Maud. The part went to Bud Cort.
Was rejected by most of the agents in N Y for years. Finally got one when he was 38. The interview was secured for him through the efforts of the wonderful actress Anne Twomey.
Was the spokesman for the sports bar restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings. His tag line was "Grab a seat. The GAME is on!".
During his hiatus from acting Richard thought he was a legitimate tough guy. This approach to society resulted in him getting beaten up very badly in a neighborhood bar on the lower east side of Manhattan.
When working behind the bar at London's "Laurita's" nightclub he served George Harrison. The former Beatle complained about the amount of wine in the glass. His complaint was not addressed. He also served Rod Stewart and David Bowie at the same club. They had no complaints.
His first paying job on camera was a commercial for CBS local news anchor Jim Jensen in N Y. His line was "I'd watch him".
Prefers working in front of the camera to working on stage.
Has done 1,000 sit ups without a break.
Was a repeat shoplifter for many years. He took small and inexpensive items, gradually working his way up to expensive gadgetry. He was eventually caught by a security guard at Sammy's Cameras in Hollywood. For reasons unbeknownst to him charges were not filed and he was let off with a warning.
Dropped out of the Senior Boxing Competition for the Manny Fernandez Masters Division as a result of a damaged right hand.
Being honored on October 1, 2016 for 5 years of continuous bedside volunteer service at The Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Is an avid collector of vintage clothing for men. Most of his collection embraces the 1950's.
In November 2016 he completed work on his 100th feature film.
Owned and operated a store in the Antique Center of America in New York City featuring antiques and ephemera from the 1930's and 1940's. The store was called The Oasis.
Grew up 2 blocks from the home of the notorious Gallo Brothers: "Crazy Joe" Gallo, Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo, and Larry Gallo. On April 7, 1972, gunmen murdered Joey Gallo in Umberto's Clam House in Manhattan's Little Italy.
Was Senior Class President of the student body at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, N Y.
Had his left ear pierced on California's Venice boardwalk in 1996 and has worn an earring ever since.
Has never lived in a house. Raised in an apartment in Brooklyn, had numerous apartments in Manhattan, and resides in an apartment in Los Angeles.
Started losing his hair in his early thirties. Believing it would negatively affect his acting career, this was a cause of great concern and anxiety. It turned out, however, to be a fortuitous situation. Embracing his hair loss as a strong look when he slicked back what was left, he turned bald into bold and is of the opinion that it helped him as a specific type for Film and Television roles.
Lost a 3 round fight to Benny Vivino at the Manny Fernandez Boxing Gym on July 13, 2017.
His nose was broken on July 13, 2017.
Had 2 ribs fractured on July 13, 2017.
Decided to give up competitive boxing on July 13, 2017.
Met and talked boxing with Mike Tyson while working on 4Kings, a Mars Callahan T V show. He has hands as big as cantaloupes. VERY powerful looking man.
Does not make the Hollywood scene. Prefers to be at home with his dogs (Sweetie and Jackpot), a good book, and his flat screen T V.
When he was tending bar in N Y he worked at a joint called Formerly Joe's with Michael Chiklis (The Commish, The Shield). Michael was a busboy at the time. He also worked at the Buffalo Roadhouse with Dylan McDermott (The Practice). Dylan was a bar back. And at Mama Siltka's aka 468 with Mark Margolis (Scarface). Mark was a waiter.
When he wasn't working he hung out at the famous and infamous Max's Kansas City bar and restaurant. It was the haunt of Andy Warhol and his group of superstars (Candy Darling, Edie Sedgwick, Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn), many soon to be famous artists, the N Y Dolls, Lou Reed, and the preeminent trend setters of the N Y scene in the late 70's.
About to begin his 8th year as a bedside volunteer at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Recently gave up the ghost in NYC and got rid of his N Y apartment. As of 2017 he had that apartment for 43 years. He is now, officially, an Angelean.
His maternal grandmother, Miriam Landman, was unable to read or write.......but she sure could cook.
Loved growing up in Brooklyn during the 50's and 60's. A special place. Ebbets Field, Nathan's in Coney Island, Lincoln Terrace Park, Sid's Candy Store, Chocolate Egg Creams, penny candy.
Saw John F. Kennedy give a campaign speech at the corner of Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, N Y.
Among the actresses he would most like to work with are Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Claire Danes, Emily Blunt, and Margo Martindale (in any order).
Among the actors he would most like to work with are Tom Hardy, Denzel Washington, Sean Penn, J K Simmons, Richard Gere, and Dustin Hoffman (in any order).
Born on a Sunday at 3:30 in the afternoon.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed