Actor Len Lesser, best known for his "Seinfeld" role as good-natured, cantankerous Uncle Leo, passed away Wednesday morning in Burbank, California, from cancer-related pneumonia. He was 88.
target="_blank">Reutersreported that Lesser was admitted to a rehabilitation center near his home several weeks ago. His family said he died in his sleep after breakfast and told CNN that his passing was "very peaceful."
"Heaven got a great comedian and actor today," daughter Michele Lesser told the New York Daily News. "The outpouring of sympathy we've already received has been amazing and is so greatly appreciated. Thank you to all the people who helped make my father's last journey special and surrounded with love."
The veteran actor appeared in only 15 episodes of "Seinfeld," but made a memorable mark as the cheapskate uncle best known for saying "Jerry! Hello!" whenever he saw his nephew. Lesser also had a running appearance on "Everybody Loves Raymond" as Garvin, a friend of Raymond's father who always lifted his arms in excitement when he saw the title character in a reference back to his stint on "Seinfeld."
In addition to his long television career as a bit actor, Lesser also served in the army during World War II and worked in film alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand and Donald Sutherland. His last role was as a neighbor in a 2009 episode of ABC's "Castle."
Lesser is survived by two children, Michele and David, and three grandchildren.