Seinfeld actor Ian Abercrombie dies, aged 77

Ian Abercrombie Essex born Abercrombie made his US stage debut in 1955 in Stalag 17

Ian Abercrombie, best known for his role in US sitcom Seinfeld, has died aged 77.

The British actor played Mr Pitt, Elaine Benes' quirky and demanding boss in seven episodes of the hit US series.

He died from complications of kidney failure in California on Thursday, the LA Times has reported.

A founding member of Bafta Los Angeles, the star had a long list of TV credits including guest appearances in Days of Our Lives and Desperate Housewives.

Essex-born Abercrombie also played Alfred Pennyworth in the US TV series Birds of Prey.

In his most well-known role, his Seinfeld character, Mr Pitt, was famous for eating chocolate bars with a knife and fork.

The character, who made Elaine's life a misery, returned for the 1998 finale show after a three year break.

He said the cameo was the role of a lifetime. "I have been around as an actor for 40-odd years, and this show knocked me out of the ballpark," he told CNN in 1998.

Although he never graduated to leading man status, the actor said he was proud of his career.

"When I was a kid growing up in England, I went to the movies quite a bit," he told one reporter. "I always remember looking out for the supporting character actors. They seemed to be far more interesting to me than the stars."

Abercrombie most recently starred as Professor Crumbs in the Disney television series Wizards of Waverly Place.

Bafta paid tribute to the star, saying it was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of long-time friend and former Board Member, Ian Abercrombie".

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