Jack Riley may not have invented TV sarcasm (that distinction would probably go to the great Frank Nelson), but like Matt Perry, Zach Braff, Chris D’Elia and dozens more who followed in his footsteps, the Cleveland-born actor (who died Friday, August 19 at age 80) was blessed with a perfect delivery for mocking the fools who surrounded him.
Most famously, live-action wise, he played the uproariously miserable Elliot Carlin on “The Bob Newhart Show.” Other work gave him over 150 credits that included everything from “Spaceballs” to “Night Court” to an endless array of voiceover commercials — but with this news, many are mourning the death of Stu Pickles.
Pickles was a standout creation in Riley’s diverse career, and those who remember his voice work in 143 episodes of “Rugrats” (and more in “All Grown Up!” a few years later) recall Tommy and Dill’s father as the silly heart and soul of the show. Below, five classic clips of Stu in action, and our own remembrance — but first, a classic look at Riley on “Newhart,” so you can see what he looked like in his comedic prime:
One of the fun things about “Rugrats” was that it depicted the adults as silly, clueless and often as helpless as the children. Stu was an inventor, whose inventions more often than not didn’t work. He also had a tendency to raid the fridge in the middle of the night, babbling incoherently.
World’s worst babysitter
While the parents ran errands, Stu would often end up babysitting the characters — bad idea. Stu had trouble managing himself, and his stubbled face and purple hair was usually quite frazzled.
I scream, Stu Screams
Another trademark characteristic of Stu was his high-pitched scream, which came out in tense moments as a hilarious contrast to his deep, morose voice. Of course, spending time with Tommy Pickles and the playmates always gave him plenty of opportunities to shriek.
Stu wasn’t the smoothest guy in the world — but Riley’s signature sarcasm shone through in moments like the one below.
Stu’s chocolate pudding
As you can see from videos like the one below, “Rugrats” fans not only remember Stu fondly, but are even inspired by him. So, pour out some chocolate pudding in memory of Stu — and, of course, the oft-unseen TV legend who made him so memorable.