By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Allan Arbus, who left the successful fashion photography business he and his wife, Diane, built to become an actor, most memorably playing the caustic psychiatrist Maj. Sidney Freedman on the hit television series “M*A*S*H,” died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 95.
.Amy Arbus, his daughter, confirmed his death.
Mr. Arbus appeared in films like “Coffy” and “Crossroads” and was a TV regular during the 1970s and ’80s, appearing on “Taxi,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Matlock” and other shows. But his best-known role was Major Freedman, the liberal psychiatrist who appeared in a dozen episodes of “M*A*S*H.” He treated wounds of the psyche much as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce treated surgery patients: with a never-ending string of zingers.
Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye, recalled Mr. Arbus as a very believable therapist.
“I was so convinced that he was a psychiatrist I used to sit and talk with him between scenes,” Mr. Alda said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “After a couple months of that I noticed he was giving me these strange looks, like ‘How would I know the answer to that?’ ”
Allan Franklin Arbus was born in New York City on Feb. 15, 1918. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School and entered City College at 15. He left college a year and a half later for a job at Russek’s Department Store, where he met Diane Nemerov, the daughter of the store’s owners.
They married in 1941 and became passionate about photography. They shot fashion photographs for Russek’s before Mr. Arbus left to serve as a photographer in the Army Signal Corps in Burma during World War II. When he was discharged in 1946 the Arbuses established a studio on West 54th Street for fashion photography and soon won a contract from Condé Nast to supply photos for magazines like Glamour and Vogue.
In 1956, Ms. Arbus dissolved their business partnership to work full time on her haunting shots of marginalized people. Mr. Arbus continued to work in fashion photography but also took up acting.
The Arbuses separated in 1959 and divorced in 1969, when Mr. Arbus moved to Los Angeles. Ms. Arbus committed suicide in 1971. In 1976, Mr. Arbus married Mariclare Costello. She survives him, as do his two daughters from his first marriage, Amy and Doon; and a daughter from his second marriage, Arin Arbus.
Mr. Arbus’s last television role was on the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2000.
ARBUS, Allan (Allan Franklin Arbus)Born: 2/15/1918, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 4/19/2013, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Allan Arbus’s westerns – actor:Here Come the Brides (TV) – 1969 (Dennis)
Greaser’s Palace – 1972 (Jessy)
The Electric Horseman – 1979 (Danny)
Bret Maverick (TV) – (Phineas Swackmyer)