Richard Libertini was born in E. Cambridge, Massachusetts, to parents who had come to America from southern Italy. Having grown up in a household where both Italian and English were spoken, he developed an ear for foreign accents. A facility he would later use to advantage on stage and in films.
He graduated from Emerson College in Boston, and for a while earned a living as a trumpet player in the Boston area. Later, he moved to New York, where he teamed up with two former college classmates, MacIntyre Dixon and Lynda Segal, to create an off-Broadway revue called “Stewed Prunes.” (This was during the coffee house revolution in the 1960s. Bob Dylan was playing around the corner.) The show was quite successful and after running a year in New York they took it on the road. While playing Chicago, he was asked to join the renowned Second City Improvisational Theatre Group, an association which continues to the present.
After a number of years doing stage work in New York (Woody Allen’s Don’t Drink the Water (1969) and Paul Sills’ Story Theatre (1971) among many others) he eventually moved to L.A. where he began doing films. Three of his most memorable characters are the Spanish-American dictator in The In-Laws (1979) with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, the Tibetan Mystic in All of Me (1984) with Steve Martin, and Lily Tomlin and the justice of the peace in Best Friends (1982) with Goldie Hawn and Burt Reynolds. Other films include Fletch (1985) with Chevy Chase and Popeye (1980) with Robin Williams.
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