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Remembering William Windom

August 19, 2012 by Marc Berman in Highlights with 7 Comments
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William Windom, the recognizable character actor who had a career on the small screen spanning seven decades, passed away on Thursday of congestive heart failure at his home near San Francisco. He was 88.

Born on September 28, 1923 in New York City and schooled at Williams College, Fordham and Columbia, Windom made his debut with the American Repertory Theatre in 1946 in productions of Henry VIII, What Every Woman Knows, John Gabriel Borkman and Androcles and the Lion. The following year, he remained on Broadway with roles in Yellow Jack and as the White Rabbit in a production of Alice in Wonderland. Windom segued onto television with early guest starring roles in series like The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Masterpiece Playhouse and Robert Montgomery Presents. Following guest shots in several 1960s series including The Twilight Zone, Checkmate, Cheyenne, Ben Casey, The Lucy Show, The Donna Reed Show and Star Trek, Windom headlined sitcom The Farmer’s Daughter from 1963-66. Multiple TV appearances followed through the 1970s, including a one season stint on 1969-70 comedy My World and Welcome To It, which resulted in an Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series.

Windom, in total, appeared as a guest star in what could be more TV series than anyone else in the history of television, and racked up his third and fourth regularly scheduled sitcoms in short-lived Brothers and Sisters (which stemmed from the success of Animal House) in 1979 and the first Parenthood, based on the Ron Howard theatrical, in 1990. He also appeared on a recurring basis on detective drama Murder, She Wrote, and had a supporting role in 1962 theatrical classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

Windom is survived by his fifth wife, Patricia Veronica Tunder, and four children. A memorial will be held on Saturday, September 15 at Theatre West (3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles) at 2 p.m.

Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman is the Editor in Chief for TV Media Insights, the online destination for television and media. Berman has appeared on camera for “Extra,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” “The CBS Evening News,” CNN, and more; and was the author of 2014 desk calendar, “This Day in TV History.”

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  • cnsublett

    Your post, dated August 19, 2012, states that Mr. Windom passed away “today”, or presumably, August 19. However, other sources indicate that he died on August 17, 2012. Can you confirm this?

    • cnsublett

      The New York Times now says he died August 16 – Thursday. You might want to change your post to reflect that.

  • Jim O

    I have yet to see an actual news story confirming this. Wikipedia doesn’t have a citation, and the only folks talking about this seem to be referencing friends of friends. Can you post a primary source?

  • Anne

    Mr. Windom was one of those actors you see on the screen, and you smile. He will be missed by the many people who watched and enjoyed his performances throughout the years. My condolences to his family.

  • marcberman

    I think he appeared as a guest star on more series than anyone else in the history of television.

  • Elvis Bus

    You forgot the memorable performce on one of the original episodes of “Star Trek” as the Commodore griven mad by grief Matt Decker in “The Doomsday Machine”.

    One of the best exchanges:

    Spock: “Commodore, I must relieve you or have you arrested”

    Commodore Decker: “You’re Bluffing!”

    Spock: : “Vulcans never bluff”

  • marcberman

    I added it Elvis Bus. Thank you.

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