Alvin Myerovich, 89, actor in 'Avalon,' 'Dirty Dancing'

June 07, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Alvin Myerovich, whose portrayal of the Jewish immigrant grandfather in Barry Levinson's 1990 Baltimore-filmed movie "Avalon" won the hearts of audiences, died of heart failure Tuesday at a retirement home in Manchester Township, N.J. He was 89.

Mr. Myerovich was professor of music and violin at Youngstown State University from 1931 to 1963, then lived for the next 21 years in Pikesville. He moved to New Jersey two years ago.

Mr. Myerovich, who described himself as a "late bloomer," began his acting career at 60, after college students recruited him for a play.

After working in community theater, his first big break came in 1980, when he played the rabbi in "Fiddler on the Roof" on Broadway, and later completed three national tours with fellow cast members Hershel Bernardi and Theodore Bikel.

The short, white-haired, bearded character actor made his movie debut at 82, when he played Mr. Schumacher, the amiable pickpocket in "Dirty Dancing." The 1987 film was set at a resort in the Catskills, and starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

His wife, the former Olga Parfenchuk, is retired first violinist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. They met when she was a student at Youngstown State.

"I taught her how to play 'Twinkle, Twinkle,' " he said in a 1990 interview in The Sunday Sun. They married in 1944.

Mr. Myerovich was born in Tula, Russia, immigrated to the U.S. United States in 1923 and settled in Youngstown. He earned his bachelor's degree in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a master's degree from Case Western Reserve University. He served in the Army in World War II and attained the rank of technical sergeant.

Mr. Myerovich wrote poetry and was an avid sailor, swimmer, water skier and mountain climber. One of his chief passions was . .TC ice skating, which he pursued until he was 87. While claiming he wasn't a "fancy skater," he boasted that he was always able to find a "victim to do the Dutch Waltz with me."

He was a member of Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild.

His daughter, actress Kim Lynne Myerovich, died in 1991.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Gary Myerovich of Lakehurst, N.J.; a sister, Bea Winnick of New Castle, Pa.; and a granddaughter.

Services are private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 70 E. Lake St., Chicago, Ill. 60601.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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