Michael Lembeck: The Actor Turned Director Who Made Us Laugh and Cry

Michael Lembeck: The Actor-turned-Director Who Made Us Laugh and Cry

Michael Lembeck is a name that may not ring a bell for many people.

But his face and voice are certainly familiar to anyone who grew up watching sitcoms and movies in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

He is the actor who played Max Horvath, the husband of Julie Cooper, on One Day at a Time and the director who helmed The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.

He is also the son of Harvey Lembeck, a legendary comedian and actor who starred in Stalag 17 and The Phil Silvers Show.

In this article, we will give you an inside look at the life and career of Michael Lembeck and why he is one of the most versatile and talented artists in Hollywood.

An image of Michael Lembeck.
Michael Lembeck, acclaimed director and actor known for his significant contributions to the entertainment industry. [PHOTO: Blogspot]

Michael Lembeck: The Background and the Education

Michael Lembeck was born on June 25, 1948, in Brooklyn, New York, to Harvey Lembeck and Caroline Dubs, both in show business.

His father was a Jewish comedian and actor who served in World War II and became famous for his roles as Sgt. Rocco Barbella on The Phil Silvers Show and as Eric Von Zipper in the Beach Party movies.

His mother was a Catholic actress and singer who appeared in Broadway shows and TV commercials.

Michael Lembeck grew up in a family that valued education, humor, and service.

He attended Beverly Hills High School, where he graduated in 1966.

He was classmates with Rob Reiner, Albert Brooks, and Richard Dreyfuss, who were also in the drama club.

Then, he studied drama at Los Angeles City College and California State University, Northridge.

He also took singing and dancing lessons and performed in summer stock productions.

Michael Lembeck: The Acting and the Comedy

Michael Lembeck started his acting career in the late 60s, appearing in TV shows such as The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, and The Bob Newhart Show.

He also made his film debut in 1968, in the Clint Eastwood western Hang ‘Em High, where he had a small role as a store clerk.

Michael Lembeck’s breakthrough role came in 1979, when he joined the cast of One Day at a Time, a sitcom about a divorced mother and her two teenage daughters.

He played Max Horvath, a dentist who married Julie Cooper, the older daughter, played by Mackenzie Phillips.

He stayed on the show until 1984 and became a fan favorite for his comedic timing and chemistry with Phillips.

Michael Lembeck also had other notable roles in TV and film, such as Clete Meizenheimer on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Kaptain Kool on The Krofft Supershow.

He also guest-starred on shows such as Barney Miller, M*A*S*H, Happy Days, L.A. Law, and Mad About You.

Michael Lembeck also inherited his father’s talent for comedy and performed in several improv groups and stand-up clubs.

He also taught comedy workshops and classes and mentored young comedians and actors.

The Directing and  Success

Michael Lembeck switched from acting to directing in the late 80s and found a new passion and success in his career.

He directed hundreds of episodes of TV shows, such as Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Mad About You, Murphy Brown, and Baby Daddy.

He won an Emmy Award in 1996 for directing the Friends episode “The One After the Superbowl”, which featured guest stars such as Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Michael Lembeck also directed several movies, such as Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne Johnson and Julie Andrews, Connie and Carla, starring Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette, and Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, starring Ashley Tisdale.

His most famous movies, however, are The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, starring Tim Allen as Santa Claus.

The movies were box office hits and earned Michael Lembeck praise for his family-friendly and heartwarming style.

Michael Lembeck is still active as a director, and has several projects in the works, such as Snow Day, a comedy starring Chevy Chase and Chris Elliott, and The J Team, a musical starring JoJo Siwa.

Michael Lembeck: The Family and the Personal Life

He married Barbara Deutsch, an actress and a singer, in 1977.

They divorced in the late 80s, and have two children, Jonathan and Jennifer, who are also actors and directors.

Jonathan Lembeck is known for his roles in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, where he played Bernard, the head elf.

Jennifer Lembeck is known for her roles in Friends and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, where she played Judy, the elf.

Michael Lembeck married Lorna Patterson, an actress and a singer, in 1990.

They have one child, Samantha, who is also an actress.

Lorna Patterson is known for her roles in Airplane!

where she played Randy, the flight attendant, and Private Benjamin, where she played Judy Benjamin, the title character.

Michael Lembeck is very close to his family, and often works with them on his projects.

He is also close to his sister, Helaine Lembeck, who is an actress and a dancer.

She is known for her roles in Welcome Back, Kotter, where she played Judy Borden, and The Krofft Supershow, where she played Superchick.


Michael Lembeck is an actor turned director who made us laugh and cry with his roles and movies.

He is also a son of a legend, a husband of a star, and a father of a dynasty.

He is Michael Lembeck, and he is one of a kind.

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