Richard Herd, known best for his role as Mr. Wilhelm on “Seinfeld” and his appearances in three “Star Trek” shows, has passed away at age 87.
— New York Post (@nypost) May 26, 2020
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sept. 26, 1932, Herd almost didn’t live to have his spot on the screen.
“I had osteomyelitis, a serious bone infection, and almost didn’t survive,” Herd told The Patriot Ledger in 2015. “I became ill in second grade and went to the Cotting School, as it’s now known, in Lexington, for young people with various ailments.”
“I was in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital. Lying there, month after month, you become very stoic. It really stimulated my imagination, and I think actually helped me later as an actor.”
As he grew up, he adopted a normal routine, picking up a job to help pay for his interest in sports.
“I had a paper route for The Brockton Enterprise,” he added. “I delivered to over a hundred houses, through rain, shine or snow. On your bike on a snowy winter’s day, it could be pretty freaky, but I loved it because it helped pay for my first baseball mitt.”
By 6th grade, Herd was in a school play, and at 19 he began studying art and acting. He began to get parts in film and television, which eventually led to his involvement with both “Star Trek” and “Seinfeld.”
“‘Seinfeld’ was one of the best jobs I ever had,” he said. “It got me a tremendous amount of recognition and still does because it plays all the time.”
He ended up playing George Costanza’s New York Yankees supervisor, Mr. Wilhelm.
But according to Herd, he was worried he might not have gotten the job based on something he said on his way out of the audition.
“It was easy. It was fun. It was very inviting,” he said. “And as I left, I turned around and said, ‘Look, I have to tell you this. I hope it doesn’t make a difference, but I’m a Red Sox fan.’ And they all threw their scripts at me. The next day they said, ‘Come on out and play with us.'”
“He was always doing things that never got done and always going over to Mr. Steinbrenner and apologizing to him,” Herd said of his character in a 2016 interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Some days, he had clear days, other days he didn’t. He was very vulnerable. He had an odd sense of humor … He was way out there on occasion. I’ve taken a few trips out there, so I know all about it.”
Even when people wouldn’t recognize Herd’s name, they would recognize him.
“I stopped at towns along the way for directions to the local junkyards,” Herd said in 2015. “People would stare at me and ask, ‘Aren’t you an actor? Weren’t you on ‘Seinfeld’?'”
Artistically inclined, Herd was also known for his paintings, jewelry designs and musical talent. According to the Chicago Tribune, he is survived by his wife, Patricia Crowder Herd, and his children Erica, Alicia and Rick.
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