If you’re a consumer of pop culture, you probably know Peter Friedman’s face. In last season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” he plays George, a Gordon Ford show producer — known for his bumbling, unreliability and casual sexism.
In “Succession,” the Jewish actor plays the polar opposite as Frank, lifelong friend of family patriarch, Logan Roy, his son Kendall’s godfather and vice-chairman of Waystar Royco. Frank is one of the few characters on the HBO drama that appears to have at least somewhat of an actual heart and moral compass, but also has a remarkable ability to roll with the punches.
Friedman, 74, has had an amazing career on screen and stage. He was nominated for a Tony for originating the role of Jewish immigrant Tateh in the Broadway production of “Ragtime,” has starred in “The Heidi Chronicles” by Jewish feminist Wendy Wasserstein and has had roles in memorable cult films like “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “Single White Female,” while starring in many TV shows (including the excellent and very Jewish “Brooklyn Bridge”).
But one of Friedman’s roles that absolutely deserves more fanfare is his gig as a puppeteer on “The Muppet Show.” As writer and Muppet lover Aimee Knight shared in a viral tweet this week, Friedman’s role on the popular kids’ show included dressing up as a giant root vegetable and singing with Jewish comedy icon Gilda Radner.
Friedman gives Radner a delightful musical lesson on performing songs from the musical “The Pirates of Penzance,” all while costumed as a gigantic suited carrot — the joke being that Radner requested a giant parrot, but was misheard.
Both Radner and Sir Carrot seem to struggle to sing the musical’s most iconic and difficult song, “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” but in the end, give us quite a rousing medley.
Honestly, I can’t tell you what I love most about this character. The styled mustache? The bushy eyebrows? The fact that he has no arms but that there are sleeves on his suit? The little carrot jig he does? It’s all so perfect, and of course, Friedman does some wonderful singing.
In case that doesn’t make you love Friedman more, he also had some stints on “Sesame Street,” where he played the back end of Mr. Snuffleupagus, the right half of a two-headed monster, the voice of a banana in “Bilingual Fruit Song” and more. Can you just imagine if the higher ups at Waystar Royco got a hold of that footage? Frank would never hear the end of it.
In the meantime, we’re preparing to say goodbye to him as probably the only truly likable character on “Succession.” In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Friedman recounted that acting on the show was the highlight of his career, partly because, unlike the characters being portrayed, when it came to the set, “Nobody was a schmuck. I loved it.”