An understudy to blacklisted actor Zero Mostel in Broadway's The Merchant, one might have to maintain a keen eye to spot character actor Joseph Leon in such films as Shaft (1971) and Sophie's Choice (1982). With such credit listings as Cab Driver #2 and Stamp Store Proprietor, as well as voiceover credits in numerous television commercials, Leon's face may not have etched itself into one's memory, but the feeling of "seen him somewhere before" is unavoidable.
Born in 1918, in New York, NY, Leon appeared in features before moving to Broadway to understudy Mostel (taking over for the actor after his death) and appear in numerous New York productions, including Glengarry Glen Ross and Café Crown. Beginning a six-year tenure as a drama professor at Hofstra University in 1966, Leon shared his skills with students while frequently appearing on TV, stage, and in film.
Joseph Leon died of natural causes in Bradenton, FL, in March 2001. He was 82.