Hiram Kasten Dies: Comedian & ‘Seinfeld’ Actor Was 71

Hiram Kasten Dies: Comedian & ‘Seinfeld’ Actor Was 71

Hiram Kasten, a comedian/actor who was part of the New York comedy club scene in the 1970s and 1980s, had a long relationship with Jerry Seinfeld and appeared on Seinfeld, died today at his home in Batavia, NY. He was 71.

He endured seven years of fighting through multiple illnesses including prostate cancer, according to his wife, Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum. He died hours after their 38th wedding anniversary.

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Born Hiram Z. Kastenbaum in the Bronx, N.Y., Kasten dreamed of becoming an actor. After a few years of bouncing around the theater scene, he decided he would try his hand at stand-up comedy.

He set his sights on The Comic Strip, where the MC was Jerry Seinfeld, who passed Hiram on his first audition. He soon became a regular at the club. The two struck up a friendship that lasted for 45 years. It was also where Hiram met his soon-to-be lifelong friends, comedians Paul Reiser, Larry Miller and Mark Schiff.

During the 1980s, he became a regular at Catch a Rising Star and occasionally The Improv, The Comedy Cellar, Caroline’s and Dangerfield. At the latter, he ran his own show every Sunday night for years.

By the late ’80s, Kasten moved to Los Angeles. He landed a role in Dr. Paradise, a pilot for CBS with Frank Langella and Sally Kellerman that wasn’t picked up to series. Other roles followed, including playing Michael, a co-worker to Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in three mid-run episodes of Seinfeld: The Masseuse, The Fire and The Opposite.

He also had guest starring roles in Mad About You, Everybody Loves Raymond, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 7th Heaven, Brooklyn Bridge, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, My Wife and Kids, Men of a Certain Age, Yes, Dear Cybill and L.A. Law, among others.

When TV writer-producer Don Reo and actor-musician David Cassidy were producing a show at The Desert Inn in Las Vegas called The Rat Pack Is Back, they were looking for a Joey Bishop-like character to add the comedy element to the show. Kasten soon was wearing a tuxedo onstage in Vegas eight times a week for nearly two years.

Afterward, he continued his stand-up by performing in clubs and on cruise ships.

He is survived by his wife, Diana, who in 2016 ran for Congress as a Democratic in New York’s 27th District; his daughter, Millicent Jade Kastenbaum; brother-in-law Kevin John Kisiel; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be at Schwartz Brothers-Jeffers Memorial Chapel in Forest Hills, NY. The date and time are to be announced. A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles later this summer.

The family has asked that if anyone cares to make a memorial tribute that it be made in the form of a charitable donation to Crossroads House and Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund).


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