Judd Hirsch has already set one Oscar record with his nomination for ‘The Fabelmans’: Can he make it two?

Judd Hirsch has portrayed several memorable characters over the past 50 years including Alex Rieger in the classic ABC/NBC 1978-83 sitcom “Taxi” for which he won two Emmys, the caring psychiatrist Dr. Berger in 1980’s “Ordinary People,” which earned him a supporting actor Oscar nomination, and Eddie Ross, the angry, verbally abusive bartender in Herb Gardner’s 1992 play “Conversations with My Father,” for which he won a Tony. His latest indelible character is the colorful Uncle Boris, a former lion tamer and film worker, in Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” earning a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Hirsch.

Hirsch, who just won the AARP’s Movies for Grownups Award for supporting actor, has made Academy Award history with his nomination. He eclipsed by one year the 41-year gap between bids set by Henry Fonda. At age 87, Hirsch would be the oldest acting winner; Christopher Plummer was 82 when he won for 2011’ “Beginners.”

Hirsch didn’t start acting until his late 20s. He received his degree in physics from City College of New York and served in the United States Army Reserve in 1958 working as surveyor. While attending acting school in New York, he was a junior engineer for Westinghouse. “I got fired from every single job I’ve ever had, except acting,” he told me in a 2017 interview.  “Every job. One, I had for six years, but I finally got fired. It was always about temperament, personality, disagreement. Employment-it’s not my best suit.”

He realized that acting was his best suit when he met acting teacher William Hickey, an Oscar nominee for 1985’s “Prizzi’s Honor” at the HB Studio. “The thing about him is, he wasn’t teaching. He was making it an atmosphere for it. He’d say things like ‘The most believable thing about you is when you’re innocent of what’s happening’. That’s the state the character has to be in-to not know what’s coming next.” After studying acting at the HB Studio, he graduated in 1962 from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

He made his Broadway debut in the mid 60s replacing Herb Edelman as the telephone man in Neil Simon’s hit comedy “Barefoot in the Park.” He earned his first Tony nomination for lead actor in 1980 for Lanford Wilson’s “Talley’s Folly.” Hirsch and Gardner made beautiful music together. Before winning the Tony for Gardner’s “Conversations with My Father,” Hirsch had prevailed for the playwright’s 1985 hit “I’m Not Rappaport.” Hirsch also starred in Gardner’s 1984 feature, “The Goodbye People.” Hirsch’s last Broadway outing was 2004’s “Sixteen Wounded,” which only ran 12 performances.

Hirsch is best known for his role on “Taxi” as Alex Reiger, a level-headed cabbie who works for the Sunshine Cab Co. in New York. Alex was a compulsive gambler who had worked in an office until he was fired for not towing the company line. Unlike the other employees who looked upon their job as a temporary gig, Alex sees being a cab driver as his profession. Hirsch won his first Emmy in 1981 for the “Elaine’s Strange Triangle” episode in which Elaine’s (Marilu Henner) new boyfriend is more interested in Tony (Tony Danza). Tony goes to Alex for help. Two years later he won again for the lovely installment “Alex’s Old Buddy.” Alex learns his elderly dog Buddy doesn’t have long to live and decides to make the most of his remaining time.

Hirsch told me he loved working with the late Andy Kaufman, who played the sweet, naïve mechanic Latka on the series. “He was a brazen fellow,” he noted with a laugh during our 2015 L.A. Times interview. “Andy was not an actor. I don’t even think he could act. He wanted to make you believe him, which is what actors do, but he wanted you to make believe him in a different way.”

“Taxi” wasn’t the first time he worked with Danny DeVito, who played the obnoxious dispatcher Louie De Palma. They became friends back in 1971 in Philadelphia in a Rosalyn Drexler play “The Line of Least Existence.” DeVito played a dog and Hirsch was a doctor who discovered the mutt was sleeping with his wife. DeVito also guest starred on Hirsch’s 1976-77 series “Delvecchio.” “He was some snidely little guy,” said Hirsch.

Ten years ago, they reunited at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles for a revival of Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys.” When they did the comedy “we sort of acknowledged the fact of what we were to each other,” Hirsch hold me in 2015. “In fact, in the play I called his character the wrong name. His name is Willie and I would call him Louie on stage many times. I’d say ‘Oh, Louie’ and he would give me this look. The audience, I don’t think they caught it.”

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify record executives and music stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where thousands of showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

More News from GoldDerby