A favorite of director Barry Levinson (who once referred to the actor as the his lucky charm), Ralph Tabakin appeared in each of Levinson's films. Theirs was a chance meeting, Tabakin accompanied a group of students to an audition for Diner (1982), Levinson's directorial debut. Born in San Antonio, TX, in 1922, Tabakin was raised in New Orleans, LA, and Richmond, VA. His distinctive features were the result of his World War II tour of duty, that earned him two bronze stars and five purple hearts. Tabakin served as a Federal Aviation Administration engineer following the war, later becoming involved with acting after retirement. Co-founding the Silver Spring Stage and the Maryland Academy of Dramatic Arts, with his wife Madolyn in the late '60s, Tabakin worked in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore-area theater communities as a director and acting coach, as well as directing the Jewish Community Center of Washington's drama school. After his fateful meeting with Levinson and making his feature debut in Diner, Tabakin appeared almost exclusively in Levinson's films, even taking a recurring role in the director's television creation Homicide: Life on the Street.On May 13, 2000, Ralph Tabakin died of heart disease, in Silver Spring, MD. He was 79.