Fred Melamed biography

Fred Melamed

Actor, Award Winner

1956 –


Who is Fred Melamed?

Fred Melamed is an American actor and writer. He was born in New York City on 13 May, 1956, and received his theatrical training at the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, he was a Samuel F. B. Morse College Graduate Fellow, and a nominee for the Irene Ryan Award, a prize conferred upon the most promising young actors in the United States. While still at Yale, he was an instructor at legendary performing arts camp, Stagedoor Manor. On stage, he performed at many of the nation's resident theatre companies, including The Guthrie Theater, The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts and The Yale Repertory Theater. He appeared on Broadway in Amadeus. While Melamed's voice is a familiar presence on television, having been featured in hundreds of commercials and television programs, he is most widely known for his portrayal of "sensitive" villain Sy Ableman, in Joel and Ethan Coen's 2009 award-winning film, A Serious Man. About that character, Film Confessional said, "Sy Abelman is as great a contemporary movie villain as The Joker, Hans Landa, or Anton Chigurh. Through physical affection, his sugary-sweet dulcet vocalizations, and condescending predisposition, the character Fred Melamed contrives is the year's most amicable force of destruction."

For his performance in A Serious Man, Melamed, along with the Coen Brothers, the film's Ensemble Cast, and its Casting Directors, won an Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award. New York Magazine listed Melamed's work as among the Best Performances of 2009, and Empire called Sy Ableman "One of The Best Alternative Coen Characters of All Time". Several leading American critics, including A.O. Scott of The New York Times, Michael Philips of The Chicago Tribune, Roger Ebert and James Lopate suggested his performance was worthy of an Academy Award nomination.

In addition, Melamed has appeared in a host of Woody Allen films, Including Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Another Woman, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Shadows and Fog, Husbands and Wives, and Hollywood Ending. He has also played significant supporting roles in Suspect, The Good Mother, The Mission, The Pickup Artist and other films.

As a writer, he has produced screenplays including Girl of the Perfume River, A Jones For Gash, and most recently (Also, a Villager), a fictional film inspired by the case of Melamed's college friend, Edward Forbes Smiley III, a renowned cartographic expert and dealer, who admitted to having been the most brazen and prolific map thief of all time.

He lives with his wife and twin sons on the East End of Long Island. Both of the Melamed children were born with autism, and Melamed and his wife have been involved in advocacy for persons living with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families.


Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:


"Fred Melamed." STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 5 Mar. 2021. <>.

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May 13, 1956
New York City
  • United States of America
  • Hampshire College

on July 23, 2013

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