Actor and comedian Hiram Kasten, best known for 'Seinfeld' appearances, dead at 71

 June 18, 2024

Hiram Kasten, an actor and comedian best known for a handful of appearances on "Seinfeld," passed away on Sunday at the age of 71, according to NBC News.

No specific cause of death was revealed but he was known to have been battling a "multitude of illnesses," including prostate cancer, over the past several years.

The Bronx-born Kasten, who spent most of his career in the entertainment industry in New York City, Los Angeles, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, died with his wife of 38 years, Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum, by his side at his home in the western New York city of Batavia, near Buffalo, according to local outlet WGRZ.

Born and raised in the Bronx

Per a lengthy obituary posted to his Facebook page, Kasten was born in the Bronx in 1952 and grew up in a Jewish neighborhood as a natural entertainer and huge New York Yankees fan. He attended public schools and graduated from CUNY, where he majored in theatre.

After first working in the theater scene for a few years, Kasten tried his hand at stand-up comedy, and caught a huge break when he met, won the approval of, and became lifelong friends with fellow stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the late 1970s.

That kick-started a decades-long career for the "truly charming guy" working the comedy club scene, mostly in New York City and the surrounding region, and it was in one of those clubs that he met in 1981 a young waitress named Diana, whom he would marry in 1986 and with whom he fathered a beloved daughter, Millicent Jade.

His career as an actor and stand-up comedian

By the late 1980s, the young family joined the "mass exodus" of entertainers from NYC to Los Angeles, where Kasten began to find work as an actor in addition to continuing his career on the comedy club circuit.

According to his IMDb page, Kasten had 35 actor credits to his name, mostly consisting of one-off guest appearances on various TV sitcoms with a handful of movies sprinkled in.

Some of the more well-known shows he appeared on included "L.A. Law," "Saved by the Bell," "Brooklyn Bridge," "Brotherly Love," "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Cybill," "Mad About You," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Dirty Sexy Money," "Without a Trace," and "Men of a Certain Age," among others.

Kasten also made recurring appearances on a few TV shows including "Seinfeld," "It's Like, You Know...," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and "7th Heaven."

Unmentioned in those credits was arguably one of his most popular recurring performances in a production at The Desert Inn in Las Vegas known as "The Rat Pack is Back," where he portrayed famed entertainer Joey Bishop to the delight of audiences and his fellow actors and comedians.

Battled a "multitude of illnesses" in his final years

Following a quarter-century in L.A., Kasten moved with his wife to her hometown of Batavia in New York so she could care for her ailing elderly father after the death of her mother, where he continued to work as a comedian for a few more years while she made an unsuccessful run for Congress, per his obituary.

He effectively ended his career in 2017 when his health began to deteriorate with a "multitude of illnesses," including prostate cancer and Crohn's Disease, much of which he kept secret from his friends until near the very end.

Kasten was preceded in death by his mother Mildred and father Samuel, along with his sister Sari, plus his mother-in-law and father-in-law and a brother-in-law. He is survived by his wife and daughter, a brother-in-law, plus several nieces and nephews and cousins.

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