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Hiram Kasten, ‘Seinfeld’ Actor and Comedian, Dies at 71

Hiram Kasten, a beloved comedian and actor known for his appearances on popular TV shows such as “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” passed away at the age of 71. Kasten died in Batavia, New York, after a prolonged battle with multiple illnesses, including prostate cancer and Crohn’s disease, his family confirmed in a statement.

Born in the Bronx on October 30, 1952, Kasten became a mainstay in New York City’s vibrant comedy scene in the 1970s and 1980s. He performed regularly at iconic clubs like The Comic Strip, The Comedy Cellar, and Caroline’s on Broadway, where he forged lifelong friendships with fellow comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, and Mark Schiff. Kasten’s comedic talent and dedication to his craft earned him a respected place in the industry.

Kasten’s career took a significant turn when he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s to pursue acting. His breakthrough role came in 1993 when he played Michael, a co-worker of Elaine Benes (portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), in three episodes of “Seinfeld.” This role solidified his place in television history and endeared him to fans of the show.

Beyond “Seinfeld,” Kasten had a prolific television career with guest appearances on numerous shows, including “7th Heaven,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Mad About You,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “L.A. Law,” and “Saved by the Bell.” His comedic talent shone through in each role, making him a beloved figure in the entertainment industry.

Despite his successful career, Kasten faced significant health challenges in his later years. He fought prostate cancer for seven years and dealt with Crohn’s disease throughout his life. In 2012, Kasten and his wife, Diana Kastenbaum, moved to Batavia to be closer to her aging father. Kasten’s health began to decline in 2017, leading him to retire from the entertainment industry. He kept the severity of his diagnosis private until the last six months of his life.

Throughout his illness, Kasten’s “great comedy and artistic community” provided immense support. Friends from both coasts made trips to Batavia to visit him, and late-night Zoom meetings offered moments of joy and laughter, prolonging his life and uplifting his spirits. His wife, Diana, noted that these interactions “prolonged his life for at least another two months.”

Kasten passed away in his wife’s arms on June 16, 2024, only hours after their 38th wedding anniversary. He is survived by his wife, their daughter Millicent Jade Kastenbaum, his brother-in-law Kevin John Kisiel, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Kasten’s family expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support from his friends and fans. “Hiram Kasten loved show business and lived his dream of being in show business,” the statement read. “His great comedy and artistic community rallied to his side, some made trips to Batavia to visit him, late-night Zoom meetings with friends on both coasts ensued and went into the wee hours of the morning.”

A funeral service for Kasten will be held at Schwartz Brothers-Jeffers Memorial Chapel in Forest Hills, New York, with a memorial service planned in Los Angeles later this summer. The family has requested that fans and loved ones make charitable donations to Crossroads House or the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund) in place of memorial tributes.

Kasten’s legacy as a comedian and actor will be remembered by many who enjoyed his performances and were touched by his warm, humorous spirit. His contributions to comedy and television have left an indelible mark, ensuring that his laughter will echo for years to come.

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