Youngstown actor known for roles in ‘Happy Days, ‘Star Wars’ passes away

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Gary Friedkin dead

Friedkin appeared in a number of films and TV shows, including as an Ewok in the Star Wars Trilogy. He also had roles in “Mother’s Day”, “Young Doctors in Love”, “Happy Days”, and “The Practice.”

Gary Friedkin passed away on December 2 at Hospice House at the age of 70.

He endured a difficult three-and-a-half weeks in the medical intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, due to complications of COVID-19.
Friedkin had spent three and a half weeks in the intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital due to complications from COVID.

He was born on November 23, 1952 in Youngstown and was a 1970 graduate of The Rayen High School.

In high school, Friedkin was a member of multiple school and local bands, including The Sol

For the past five years, Gary was a resident of Heritage Manor in Youngstown.

Gary, also known as “Kishka” to his childhood friends, was born Nov. 23, 1952, in Youngstown, son of the late Laura and Saul Friedkin, brother to Barbara, Alan and Judy.

He was a gift to all who knew him as an amazing son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, great-uncle and friend. Gary lived his life to the absolute fullest, bringing endless laughs to his family and many friends, while never letting the obstacles he faced get in his way.

Gary put countless smiles on people’s faces and left so many with their own special “Gary story.”

Gary was a 1970 graduate of The Rayen School. He was an active member of Little People of America and attended many conventions, where he met lifelong friends, connected with people across the United States, and introduced others to the organization.

Gary was born to entertain. While in high school, he was a member of multiple school and local bands, including the rock band, The Solars.

Playing piano and percussion by ear, his talent was exceptional. Gary went on to receive his formal training from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree.

Gary later moved to Los Angeles and began an acting career that would span for four decades. He had roles in numerous television shows and movies, which are all noted on his IMDB profile.

Gary worked with a long list of actors, including Ed O’Neil, Chevy Chase, Michael McKean, Dabney Coleman, Gary Marshall, Henry Winkler, Carrie Fisher, Hector Elizondo, Whoopie Goldberg, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and John DiResta, as well as many others.

To see one of Gary’s most memorable bits, go to YouTube and type in “Young Doctors in Love telephone.”

Gary enjoyed family meals and holidays at Alan and Carol’s, Saturday night dinners with Alan, Carol and Nathan at local restaurants, and Wednesday lunches with Alan.

He spent his time watching sports, classic movies and television shows, listening to 60s music, and doing FaceTime with his great-nieces and great-nephew. Most of all, he cherished the time he spent with his family and friends.

During the past five years, Gary’s life was made much fuller with the great relationship he had with his nephew, Nathan. Nathan considered his Uncle Gary his best friend.

Nathan helped Gary when they went out to dinners, assisting him in and out of the car, he provided him with thousands of shows, movies and music videos that he set up for him on his TV, and they both looked forward to their daily fun, and sometimes challenging and heated conversations.

Nathan supplied him with all of his favorite foods and snacks, including the ones that he would sneak into Uncle Gary’s room (especially his meatlover’s pizza with extra sausage and pepperoni) that he thoroughly enjoyed.

Gary will be dearly missed by his brother, Alan; sister-in-law, Carol; nephews, Nathan and Aaron (Joni) Friedkin; niece, Sara (Lance) Polikov; great-nieces, Hayden and Jordyn Polikov; and great-nephew, Sawyer Polikov; along with many dedicated and loyal friends.

While Gary may have been short of stature, he was a giant amongst his family and friends. His legacy will live on as stories are told and retold for years to come by all who loved him.

The family would like to thank Dr. Goodwin, who guided the family through this difficult time, and the phenomenal staff of St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital MICU, for the care and compassion they showed Gary and his family in his final days.

A scholarship has been established in Gary’s name at YSU. Attention will be given to those with a disability or a concentration in the performing arts. Memorial donations can be made to the Gary Friedkin Scholarship. YSU Foundation, 655 Wick Ave., Youngstown, OH 44502.

A celebration of Gary’s amazing life will be held in spring 2023.

The family thanks you in advance for respecting their privacy at this time and encourages everyone to get vaccinated and boosted to protect their family and community.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Shriver-Allison-Courtley-Weller-King Funeral Home.

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