Danny Goldman, the actor who voiced “Brainy Smurf” and played the persistent medical student whose prying questions drove Gene Wilder’s irate doctor to stab his own leg with a scalpel in the opening scene of Young Frankenstein, died Sunday, April 12, at his home in Los Angeles from complications of two recent strokes. He was 80.
His family made the announcement. The cause of death was not related to COVID-19.
A casting director of television commercials for nearly 30 years, Daniel Goldman – he always went by Danny – also was a familiar face on episodic TV throughout the 1970s, ’80s and into the ’90s, appearing on The Good Life, Room 222, Get Smart, The Partridge Family, Love, American Style, Needles and Pins, Columbo, Baretta, Chico and the Man, Cagney & Lacey, The Golden Girls and The King of Queens.
Often cast as finicky, nerdy characters, Goldman was equally familiar for his voice, at least to generations of children (and their parents) who watched and loved Hanna-Barbera’s The Smurfs. As the bespectacled intellectual (though not always accurate) Smurf known as “Brainy,” Goldman voiced the character for the 1980s series, later reprising the role in a recurring parody on the 2005-2011 Robot Chicken.
His last TV role was as Detective Bob Zablonsky on a couple episodes of Criminal Minds, giving sharp-eyed film buffs the chance to recognize the man who had a small but memorable role in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein nearly 40 years before. In the film’s opening classroom scene, Goldman’s annoying medical student presses Wilder’s Dr. Frederick Frankenstein on his infamous family history of monster-making.
“But what about your grandfather’s work, sir?,” the student demands.
“My grandfather’s work was doo-doo!” shouts the doc, distractedly plunging a scalpel into his own thigh in exasperation.
A New York City native, the actor also appeared in the films M*A*S*H (1970), Linda Lovelace for President (1975) The Missouri Breaks (1976) and Where the Buffalo Roam (1980), among others.
Goldman, who suffered two strokes in December, is survived by his wife Mary Gillis, and niece Liz York.
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