Bruno Kirby is gone. Leukemia. He was 57.
Ever since Good Morning, Vietnam, every time I saw Kirby's name in the opening credits I took it as an insurance policy. Kirby's star dropped a little after a private feud cost him frequent collaborator Billy Crystal, but no one seems to mention that Crystal's did, too. Revisiting When Harry Met Sally... and City Slickers, one is surprised to discover that it's Crystal who's playing the straight man, the Bing Crosby to Kirby's Bob Hope. Nothing Crystal says in the former is as funny as Kirby's exasperated plea for Meg Ryan to "draw something resembling anything" during a losing game of Pictionary.
Kirby had a gift for transforming the most banal line of dialogue into a melody, making him a secret weapon of tone-deaf directors like Barry Levinson and keeping him from blending into the wallpaper in ensemble films like Donnie Brasco. And he could collapse his doughy features into a kabuki mask that lent itself equally well to tony comedy (his deadpan reactions to Albert Brooks' quaalude trip in Modern Romance turn the sequence into a quintessential illustration of the Kuleshov Effect) and period pieces (The Godfather Part II, Flesh & Blood).
Arrivederci, Bruno. You will be greatly missed.