Comedian And TV Actor Has Passed Away At Age 71

Hiram Kasten, a beloved comedian and TV actor known for his contributions to the New York comedy club scene in the 1970s and 1980s, passed away on June 16 at his home in Batavia, New York. He was 71 years old.

Kasten had battled multiple illnesses, including prostate cancer, for seven years, according to his wife, Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum. His death occurred just hours after the couple celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary.

Born Hiram Z. Kastenbaum in the Bronx, New York, Kasten had always dreamed of becoming an actor. Initially pursuing theater, he eventually turned to stand-up comedy, finding his place among the burgeoning comedy scene of the era. His big break came at The Comic Strip, where Jerry Seinfeld, then the MC, passed him on his first audition. This opportunity not only established him as a regular at the club but also sparked a 45-year friendship with Seinfeld.

Kasten quickly became a fixture in the comedy world, performing at notable venues such as Catch a Rising Star, The Improv, The Comedy Cellar, Caroline’s, and Dangerfield’s, where he ran his own show every Sunday night for years. His comedic talent and unique style earned him the respect and camaraderie of fellow comedians like Paul Reiser, Larry Miller, and Mark Schiff.

By the late 1980s, Kasten transitioned to Los Angeles, where he expanded his career into television. He landed a role in the CBS pilot Dr. Paradise alongside Frank Langella and Sally Kellerman. This led to guest appearances in popular TV shows such as Seinfeld, where he played Michael, a co-worker of Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He also appeared in Mad About You, Everybody Loves Raymond, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 7th Heaven, Brooklyn Bridge, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, My Wife and Kids, Men of a Certain Age, Yes, Dear, Cybill, and L.A. Law, among others.

One of Kasten’s notable career highlights was his role in the Las Vegas show The Rat Pack is Back at The Desert Inn, produced by Don Reo and David Cassidy. Cast as a Joey Bishop-like character, Kasten performed eight shows a week for nearly two years, bringing the comedy element to the tribute show.

In addition to his TV and stage work, Kasten continued to perform stand-up comedy, entertaining audiences in clubs and on luxury cruise ships such as Seabourn, Royal Viking, and Princess Cruises. His humor and charm made him a favorite among passengers and audiences worldwide.

Kasten is survived by his wife, Diana, who ran for Congress on the Democratic ticket in NY-27 in 2016, and their daughter, Millicent Jade Kastenbaum. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Kevin John Kisiel, along with numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Funeral services will be held at Schwartz Brothers-Jeffers Memorial Chapel in Forest Hills, New York, with the date and time to be announced. Burial will follow at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, New York. A memorial service will also be held in Los Angeles later this summer, with details to be announced.

The family requests that memorial tributes be made in the form of charitable donations to Crossroads House and the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund).