A successful fashion photographer who was married to Diane Arbus, he turned to acting in the early 1960s and worked steadily in television and films for decades.Allan Arbus
, a top-notch photographer who left that business to become an actor, most notably starring as sardonic psychiatrist Maj. Sidney Freedman on the CBS hit series M*A*S*H, has died. He was 95.
Arbus died Friday at his home in Los Angeles, his daughter Amy told The New York Times.
Arbus played Freedman in 12 episodes spanning a decade on M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972-83 on CBS, with his character often being called upon to help heal the emotional and psychic wounds of the 4077th’s beleaguered medical staff stationed in South Korea during the Korean War.
In his first appearance on the show, in the second season, Arbus’ character is sent to the unit in order to evaluate the cross-dressing Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr) and decide whether the corporal should be discharged. In the series’ acclaimed finale, seen by a record-breaking 125 million viewers, Freedman gets Hawkeye (Alan Alda) to remember bit by bit the events that caused him to go crazy.
“I was so convinced that he was a psychiatrist, I used to sit and talk with him between scenes,” Alda told the Archive of American Television in a 2000 interview. “After a couple months of that, I noticed he was giving me these strange looks, like, ‘How would I know the answer to that?’ ”
The native New Yorker also appeared regularly on television in dozens of other series, including Here Come the Brides, Mod Squad, The Odd Couple, Karen, Wonder Woman, The Rockford Files, Quincy M.E., Cagney & Lacey, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue and Judging Amy. His last role came in 2000 on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Arbus’ film résumé included Coffy (1973), W.C. Fields & Me (1976), Damien: Omen II (1978), The Electric Horseman (1979), Crossroads (1986) and In Dark Places (1997).