Fyvush Finkel was an actor best known for his many roles in Yiddish theater and on television over the course of his 80-year career. Finkel memorably played lawyer Douglas Wambaugh on David E. Kelley’s 1990s television drama Picket Fences, which followed an aging sheriff trying to keep the peace in a small town beset with strange events and occasional violent crimes.
In 1994, he won an Emmy Award for his supporting role on the series, for which he was also nominated the previous year. Finkel also won a Golden Globe for the part, as well as an American Television Award.
The actor reteamed with Kelley on the early 2000s series Boston Public, on which he played crotchety history teacher Harvey Lipschultz. He also appeared as a recurring character on the ABC revival of Fantasy Island.
Additionally, Finkel had roles on the series Kojak, Chicago Hope, Harry’s Law and Blue Bloods, and appeared in the 1985 miniseries Evergreen, starring Lesley Ann Warren and Ian McShane, and the 1996 telefilm Mixed Nuts.
Finkel began his career on the stage at the age of nine. At 43, he appeared in the touring production of Fiddler on the Roof, playing various parts until he landed the starring role of Tevye. In 1988, he won an Obie Award for his portrayal of a contemptuous Jewish waiter in Café Crown.
Finkel went on to appear in films as well, including Sidney Lumet’s crime film Q&A; the Coen brothers' 2009 film A Serious Man; Seize the Day, starring Robin Williams; Brighton Beach Memoirs, with Blythe Danner; Mobsters, starring Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey; For Love or Money, starring Michael J. Fox; Nixon, starring Anthony Hopkins; and The Crew, with Richard Dreyfuss and Burt Reynolds.
Late in life, Finkel starred in a one-man show at the Metropolitan Room about his 84 years in show business.
He died August 14, 2016, in New York City. He was 93.