John Fiedler, Actor Who Played TV's Mr. Peterson and Broadway's Raisin in the Sun, Dead at 80

Obituaries   John Fiedler, Actor Who Played TV's Mr. Peterson and Broadway's Raisin in the Sun, Dead at 80 John Fiedler, the thin-voiced Broadway character actor more widely known as nervous Mr. Peterson in TV's "The Bob Newhart Show" and (in voiceover) worrywart Piglet in Disney's "Winnie the Pooh" cartoons, died June 25 at age 80, according to The New York Times.

Most recently on Broadway, he was a morals inspector in the National Actors Theatre 1992 revival of the Feydeau farce A Little Hotel on the Side, and was a member of the New England community in NAT's The Crucible in 1991.

He created the role of Vinnie in Broadway's The Odd Couple and repeated his work in the film version. In a famous recurring role on Newhart's 1970s sitcom, Mr. Fiedler played hen-pecked Mr. Peterson, a frail man whose marital woes and weak spirit made him the butt of jokes in group therapy sessions (particularly from the dark-natured Mr. Carlson).

The Times pointed out that underneath many of his apparently passive characters was a feisty mean streak.

Mr. Fiedler's Broadway credits include the original 1959 production of A Raisin in the Sun, in which he played Karl Lindner, a representative of the white neighborhood where the play's central black family plans to move, escaping the ills of the city. Karl was nice on the outside, but had unfriendly, racist feelings stirring inside.

In a 1986 Roundabout Theatre revival of the play, Off-Broadway, he repeated his work as Lindner and also appeared in the Hollywood film, although his character was named Mark Lindner. Also on Broadway, he performed in Our Town (1969), Harold (1962), Howie (1958) and One Eye Closed (1954).

On film, he appeared in "Twelve Angry Men," "That Touch of Mink," "The World of Henry Orient," "Kiss Me, Stupid," "Girl Happy" and "True Grit."

Mr. Fiedler amassed many TV credits, from commercials to soaps to guest spots on sitcoms and dramas. He voiced many Disney projects, particularly in recent years. His Piglet character, best friend to Winnie the Pooh, was heard in TV programs ("The Book of Pooh") and films (including "The Tigger Movie," "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" and "Piglet's Big Movie"). Also for Disney, he voiced the character of Deacon Owl in Disney's "The Rescuers," and an old man in "The Emperor's New Groove."

The high-voiced Mr. Fiedler was born in Platteville, WI, a small town in the southwestern section of the state. He grew up in suburban Milwaukee. After a stint in the Navy, he moved to New York and studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He studied with Sanford Meisner and at the Robert Lewis Workshop.

His first professional appearance was in At War With the Army at Chicago's Harris Theatre in 1949. In 1950, he toured as Albert in the play The Happy Time (1950). His New York stage debut was as Medvedenko in the Phoenix Theatre's The Seagull in 1954 and was Buckley in Phoenix's The Terrible Swift Sword in 1955. His career also included summer stock and other Off-Broadway roles.

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