He was a notably short, Italian, nasal-toned and mischievous-looking fellow, a perfect type for the stand-up comedy circuit and for playing Brooklynesque characters in T.V. sitcoms and films...which is just what Ron Carey did. He was born Ronald Joseph Cicenia in Newark, New Jersey, on December eleventh, 1935, into a huge Italian family; his father was a singing waiter at one time. Ron earned his Bachelor's degree in communications from Seton Hall University in South Orange in 1956, but it didn't take him long to change directions. Together his pint-sized frame (actually, he was 5'7", but "acted" much shorter), pushy attitude and elastic face seemed like an ideal blend for inducing laughs, so he decided to begin a career in entertainment instead.
Ron moved to near-by New York and took to the comedy stage, finding work in such prime clubs as "The Improvisation". He soon earned notice for his "little man" humor, which was built around Italian family and Roman Catholic "guilt" jokes (in reality, he once considered being a priest). Ron finally gained some momentum on T.V. making various funnyman appearances on the talk/variety show formats hosted by the best of the best -- Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson. He also found lucrative work in commercials playing various feisty or hapless characters.
Ron finally broke into films with the Jack Lemmon/Sandy Dennis comedy The Out of Towners (1970) as a Boston taxi driver, then continued on with other minor bits in Who Killed Mary Whats'ername? (1971) and the cult film Made for Each Other (1971) starring Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor. Earlier Ron appeared on Broadway in the couple's 1968 hit comedy "Lovers and Other Strangers." It wasn't until his work as a secondary staple in Mel Brooks' madcap company that he earned even a modicum of success in films. His participation in the zany parodies Silent Movie (1976), High Anxiety (1977) and History of the World: Part I (1981) occurred during the height of his T.V. fame. Likewise, he went on to deliver a substantial role as plus-sized Dom DeLuise's unsympathetic brother Frankie in Fatso (1980), directed by Brooks' wife Anne Bancroft.
As for the smaller screen, a regular player on the summer variety series The Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show (1972) led to his being cast in the New York-area sitcom The Corner Bar (1972) and the ethnic family comedy The Montefuscos (1975). A steady pay-check was not to be had, however, until he was added to the second season ensemble of Barney Miller (1975) headed by Hal Linden and Abe Vigoda. Ron earned sympathy strokes as Carl Levitt, a brown-nosing, eager-beaver patrolman who yearned to be a plainclothes detective in Barney's police agency, but just didn't measure up because of his vertically challenged stature. Ron, whose character finally received a promotion after the long haul, stayed with the popular show until its cancellation in 1982. Ron died of complications from a stroke at seventy-one years old in Los Angeles and is survived by long-time wife Sharon.