Martin Mull, Who Played Gene Parmesan on 'Arrested Development,' Has Died

The actor passed away following "a valiant fight against a long illness"

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jul 2, 2024

Martin Mull — the comedian, musician and actor known for his work on sitcoms like Arrested Development, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Roseanne — has died. He was 80.

The actor passed away at his home last Thursday (July 27) after "a valiant fight against a long illness," his daughter, Maggie, shared on Instagram. "He was known for excelling at every creative discipline imaginable and also for doing Red Roof Inn commercials," she wrote. "He would find that joke funny."

Born in Chicago, IL, Mull first broke into the entertainment business as a songwriter, penning Jane Morgan's 1970 song "A Girl Named Johnny Cash," which peaked at No. 61 on the Billboard country charts. Later that decade, he began his own recording career as a musical comedian, opening for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Frank Zappa with performances of his satirical and humour-driven songs.

Mull had one of his first career-making moments in television in 1976, when he played Garth Gimble on the soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, ahead of making his feature film debut in 1978's FM. In 1985, he portrayed Colonel Mustard in Clue, followed by taking on voice acting work in a number of, yes, Red Roof Inn commercials. It was in the 1990s that Mull began his long-running recurring role on Roseanne as the title character's boss, Leon Carp, as well as a later spot on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Principal Willard Kraft. 

An actor as storied as he is probably has numerous different roles he's best known for depending on who you ask, but it's perhaps playing Gene Parmesan — private investigator and master of disguise — on Arrested Development, reliably prompting the most excitement Jessica Walter's Lucille Bluth ever showed. (His co-star also died at age 80 back in 2021.)

See Mull's daughter's memorial post below.

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