(written from a Production point of view)
Phil Rubenstein (3 August 1940 – 26 June 1992; age 51) was the actor who played the part of a San Francisco garbage man in the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Born in The Bronx, New York, he died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California at the age of 51.
Rubenstein's acting career was brief by Hollywood standards. After making his film debut in the 1976 thriller Dark Sunday, he appeared on an episode of Kojak along with Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo in 1977. He would later work with Picardo in a 1986 episode of Hardcastle and McCormick entitled "Brother, Can You Spare a Crime?", which, in addition to series regulars Brian Keith and Daniel Hugh Kelly, also featured Leslie Bevis, Kenneth Mars, and Claudette Nevins. The next project Rubenstein and Picardo appeared in together was the 1986 comedy film Back to School, which co-starred Adrienne Barbeau, DS9 regular Terry Farrell, Sally Kellerman and Michael McGrady.
Later in 1977, Rubenstein appeared in the TV movie Contract on Cherry Street with ENT guest stars Michael Nouri and Tucker Smallwood. In 1979, he was a regular on the short-lived CBS situation comedy series Working Stiffs, appeared on the CBS drama series The White Shadow with Madge Sinclair, and in an episode of the hit sitcom Taxi, along with series regular Christopher Lloyd and Dick Miller. His first major studio film was the 1979 musical drama The Rose, which also featured Jonathan Banks.
In 1980, Rubenstein appeared opposite Marc Alaimo in the "Nine Hours" episode of The Incredible Hulk, written and directed by Nicholas Corea. That same year, he appeared in an episode of Trapper John, M.D. directed by Murray Golden entitled "If You Can't Stand the Heat". (Rubenstein returned to this series in 1986, in an episode co-starring Gary Lockwood.) In 1981, Rubenstein appeared on the comedy series Barney Miller with Ron Glass, Allan Miller, and Kenneth Tigar, and had a small role in the TV movie A Small Killing, starring Jean Simmons and Andrew Prine and featuring Nicholas Guest.
In 1982, Rubenstein appeared on William Shatner's police drama series, T.J. Hooker. In addition to Shatner, the series also starred James Darren and Richard Herd; Richard McGonagle appeared in Rubenstein's episode, as well. Rubenstein then made three appearances on the police drama Hill Street Blues, one in 1983 and two in 1984, each time playing a different role. Barbara Bosson and James B. Sikking were regulars on this series.
In 1984, Rubenstein was seen in the TV movies Getting Physical (with Earl Boen, William Boyett, and an uncredited Spice Williams) and Gone Are the Days (directed by Gabrielle Beaumont and featuring Bibi Besch, Ted Gehring, and Olaf Pooley). In addition, he made the first of two appearances on Night Court, the hit NBC comedy series starring John Larroquette; he made his second appearance on the show in 1986. In 1985, he appeared on Highway to Heaven (in an episode with Anthony Zerbe) and appeared on the show again the following year.
Other television shows he on which he guest-starred throughout the 1980s include Cassie & Co. (with Phillip Richard Allen and Robert Hooks), Gimme a Break! (starring John Hoyt), Remington Steele (starring James Read, in an episode with Peter Vogt), Airwolf (with Paul Carr and Henry Darrow), Knight Rider (with Alan Oppenheimer), Crazy Like a Fox (starring John Rubinstein, in an episode with Stan Ivar), Hunter (with Biff Yeager), Scarecrow and Mrs. King (with Earl Billings and Stanley Kamel), Comedy Factory (with Hamilton Camp and Kitty Swink), Murder, She Wrote (with James Sloyan and David Ogden Stiers), and L.A. Law (starring Corbin Bernsen and Larry Drake, in an episode with Raye Birk).
In 1986, Rubenstein appeared the TV movie Intimate Encounters with Clyde Kusatsu. In the 1988 CBS Summer Playhouse production entitled "Dr. Paradise", Rubenstein worked alongside Frank Langella (in the title role), Tommy Hinkley, and the aforementioned Sally Kellerman. That same year, Rubenstein appeared in the TV movies Frank Nitti: The Enforcer with Mike Starr and Crossing the Mob with Joey Aresco, Robert Costanzo and Louis Giambalvo.
Rubenstein had a small role in the 1982 film The Last American Virgin, starring Lawrence Monoson. In 1984, he appeared alongside Vincent Schiavelli in the film Kidco. He also had a small role in the musical comedy film Rhinestone that same year, along with Chip Heller and Leslie Morris.
In 1985, Rubenstein had a supporting role in the independent film The Boys Next Door, as did Christopher McDonald. The following year, he appeared in the film Body Slam, along with Ellen Albertini Dow. He then played a mannequin factory boss in the 1987 comedy film Mannequin, starring Kim Cattrall. He also had a role in the cult 1988 film Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, starring W. Morgan Sheppard.
The final years
In 1989, he appeared in three films: The Runnin' Kind with Julie Cobb, James Cromwell, and Kenneth Tigar; My Mom's a Werewolf with John Schuck; and Tango & Cash with Marc Alaimo, Roy Brocksmith, Richard Fancy, Teri Hatcher, Clint Howard, Leslie Morris, Glenn Morshower, and Michael J. Pollard. Rubenstein then appeared in 1990's RoboCop 2, along with Bill Bolender, Roger Aaron Brown, Gabriel Damon, Robert DoQui, John Glover, Galyn Görg, Stephen Lee, Tzi Ma, Jeff McCarthy, Mark Rolston, and star Peter Weller.
Rubenstein had quite possibly his largest film role in the 1991 comedy Another You, opposite Craig Richard Nelson, Michael J. Pollard, Vincent Schiavelli, Vanessa Williams, and Biff Yeager. The following year, he made his final television appearance, in the final episode episode of the short-lived situation comedy Drexell's Class, starring Dakin Matthews. Rubenstein died three months after this episode was aired.