Arrested Development star Martin Mull dies age 80

Martin Mull  (AP)
Martin Mull (AP)

Martin Mull, best known for his roles in Arrested Development, Roseanne and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, has died after an unknown illness, his family have said.

The comedy actor, 80, whose career has spanned many decades, passed away on Thursday (27 June) his daughter announced.

It is understood Mull had been battling the mystery illness for an extended period, with his daughter, Maggie, confirming the news on social media on Saturday (29 June).

Writing on Instagram, Maggie said “I am heartbroken to share that my father passed away at home on June 27th, after a valiant fight against a long illness.

“He was known for excelling at every creative discipline imaginable … He would find that joke funny. He was never not funny.”

She added that her father will be “deeply missed” by all, including “by many, many dogs”.

Mull landed the role of  Colonel Mustard in the 1985 black-comedy movie Clue, inspired by the board game that shares the same name. 1990s television fans will also recognise him from Roseanne, where he played the lead character’s boss and best friend, Leon Carp.

The star also appeared on the critically acclaimed Fox sitcom Arrested Development, playing private detective Gene Parmesan alongside Jessica Walter, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, and Michael Cera.

Mull was nominated for an Emmy Award for his four-episode appearance on the HBO political satire Veep in 2016. His expansive career saw him rack up swathes of guest credits on many other well-known television programmes, including The Simpsons, Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, and more.

The comedian began his career as a songwriter and opened for Frank Zappa and Bruce Sprinsteen at multiple shows in the early 1970s. Mull also studied fine art and graduated in 1965 from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine arts.

Mull  with his wife, Wendy Haas, at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2016 (AP)
Mull with his wife, Wendy Haas, at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2016 (AP)

“Every painter I know has a day job. They’re either teaching art at some college or driving a cab,” Mull told the AV Club in 2013. “I just happened to luck into a day job that’s extraordinary and a lot of fun and buys a lot of paint,” he said.

Mull’s friends and colleagues have been quick to share tributes to the actor on social media following his passing.

“Martin was the greatest,” wrote Bridesmaids director, Paul Feig, on X/Twitter. “So funny, so talented, such a nice guy. Was lucky enough to act with him on The Jackie Thomas Show and treasured every moment being with a legend.”

Sabrina the Teenage Witch lead, Melissa Joan Hart, added: “Rest in Peace, my friend. The incredible #MartinMull (Principal Kraft) has left us for his eternal rest.

“I have such fond memories of working with him and being in awe of his huge body of work, which before #SabrinaTheTeemageWitch included #Roseanne and #MrMom as the projects I knew him from.”

“He was an artist who liked to paint and build things with his hands, a musician, and a wonderful man who I am better for knowing. He will be missed, but this world has benefited from his being here,” she wrote. “My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.”

Jennifer Tilly, who starred alongside Mull in the 1988 movie Rented Lips, added, “So sad to hear of the passing of Martin Mull. I worked with him a long time ago on a film called Rented Lips that he wrote and also starred in.

“He was such a witty, charismatic and kind person. As an actress just starting out, it really meant a lot to me to be able to work with such a wonderful actor.”

Mull is survived by his daughter Maggie and his composer wife, Wendy Haas, who he married in 1982.